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Comics Journalism Lecture

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Ryan Schill

on 17 April 2013

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Transcript of Comics Journalism Lecture

Comics Journalism - Ryan Schill Who am I? Assistant Editor - Center for Sustainable Journalism Why am I here? I wrote a comics journalism piece: "Jessica Colotl: In the Eye of the Storm" KSU Alum 2011 Green Eyeshade Winner Star of Telemundo What is comics journalism? Why use comics in journalism? Comic controversies Writing the script What is comics journalism? Comic art + journalism Definition of truth Literal truth vs "essential truth" (Joe Sacco) “Aren’t drawings by their very nature subjective? The answer to this last question is yes…Drawings are interpretive even when they are slavish renditions of photographs, which are generally perceived to capture a real moment literally. But there is nothing literal about a drawing.” Simple Existential Things it is not: Comics journalism comic books. What it sort of is ... : “When you draw, you can always capture that moment. You can always have that exact, precise moment when someone's got the club raised, when someone's going down. I realize now there's a lot of power in that.” - Joe Sacco, interview in The Believer, June 2011 Not possible with photography. Photojournalism In fact, comics journalism is most closely related to photojournalism in presentation - a series of images that tell a story with the help of narration and quotes. A brief history of comics journalism Pre-history Depiction of the sinking of the USS Maine, 1898.
Played significant role in igniting the Spanish American War More recent Comics better described as memoir or non-fiction.
Harvey Pekar - "American Splendor"
Art Spiegelman - "Maus" Harvey Pekar Writer - "American Splendor" 1976 "Comics could do anything that film could do. And I wanted in on it." - Pekar An "autobiography written as it happened." "Comics are words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures." Art Spiegelman - "Maus" 1991 About Spiegelman's father's experience during the Holocaust, using taped interviews as source material. From memoir to journalism Joe Sacco Journalist who drew comics as a hobby. Comics journalism pioneer Stuck in journalism jobs that bored him.
Eventually decided to give up and draw comics for a living.
Eventually merged the two. "Palestine"
Published mid-'90s
Short and long pieces, including first-person narratives and dramatizations of stories he was told Growth of a movement Matt Bors Editorial cartoonist
Comics Journalism Editor for Cartoon Movement
Traveled to Haiti in 2011, one year after devastating earthquake
Result was "Tents Beyond Tents," published Jan. 2011 Cartoon Movement Website dedicated to publishing and commissioning comics journalism and editorial cartoons Why use comics journalism? Similar to photojournalism, form allows reporter to SHOW and not just TELL. Provides more clarity than exposition or description can
Immerses reader in story
Increases intimacy But are comics the best form for my story? Then why did you do it? Story would have more visual impact
Puts a face to the issue
Wanted to experiment Experimenting All communication professionals - writers, journalists, public relations, marketing, etc. - should do whatever they can to become better at what they do. Comics allowed me to take a story I was familiar with and tell it from a fresh perspective and in a new way. I had to push myself to rethink the story and how it should be told. There is no "ideal" form for any story - but some will work better than others. Try as many as you can. A controversial format Lines lie - are subjective
Potential for embellishment
Use of first-person increases potential for opinion
How accurate is the reporting? How do I write a comics journalism script? Record every visual detail you can If you aren't there, look online for images Report, report, report You are the director Think visually - what's the best way to describe a scene?
You decide on construction of page
How many panels?
What shape or style are panels? Kill your darlings Beautiful prose is less important than efficient exposition
Let the visuals tell the story
Exposition, description and quotes should be brief
Leave room for the art
Write yourself in
Easier to recount second-hand stories The artist Artist's style plays a huge role
Realistic or comic style?
Be open to changing things in script
Be cool if artists change things without asking
Editor will mediate Symbolia iPad-only magazine dedicated to comics journalism Erin Polgreen
Full transcript