Creating Your Graphic Memoir

The Art of Telling Your Personal Story in Comics | taught by Tom Hart Watch Intro Video

Course description

In this video series, we’re going to look at creating a graphic memoir. We’ll look at more than 20 master examples and complete more than 20 exercises to get us better and deeper into our own story. We’ll go step by step from idea to completion and gather lots of tools and inspirations on the way.

I’ll share my experiences in creating my recent full-length memoir, Rosalie Lightning ( ), by showing detailed notes, sketches and drafts. That book has already been excerpted in Best American Comics 2015 by Houghton Mifflin

The course is divided into 8 steps:

  1. What Can Comics Do? Works cited: Smile, Raina Telgemeier; Theth, Josh Bayer; Epileptic, David B.; Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
  2. Gathering Material. Works cited: King-Cat, John Porcellino; Silly Daddy, Joe Chiappetta; 100 Demons, Lynda Barry
  3. Organizing the Story. Works cited: Kampung Boy, Lat; Nononba, Shigeru Mizuki; We Can Fix It, Jess Fink
  4. Finding a Visual Style. Works cited: Graffiti Kitchen, Eddie Campbell; David Chelsea in Love, David Chelsea; Dance by the Light of the Moon, Judith Vanistendael
  5. Choosing Storytelling Styles. Works cited: To the Heart of the Storm, Will Eisner; Fun Home, Alison Bechdel, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast
  6. Visual Language, Visual Experience. Works cited: Epileptic, David B.; Monsters, Ken Dahl, You'll Never Know, Carol Tyler;
  7. Starting and Working. Works cited: How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, Sarah Glidden; Make Me a Woman, Vanessa Davis; July Diary, The Voyeurs, Gabrielle Bell
  8. Working and Finishing. Works cited: Calling Dr. Laura, Nicole Georges; Maus, MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman; The Photographer, Dieder Lefevre, Emmanuel Guibert, Frederic Lemercier

In each step we’ll take a quick look at three great graphic memoirs that exemplify the task we’re looking at, and then an in-depth look at my approach to that step.

And then in PDF form, we’ll complete at least three exercises related to each step, drawing from those master memoirs to get us further along. The PDFs will also include an even more in-depth look into the process of creating my book.

So grab a pencil, call up those stories you’ve always wanted to tell, or that you’ve told but never drawn, and let’s get started.

NOTE- PDFS in slight progress still

At present, all 8 sections have complete Assignments, plus "Tom's Story". "Live Example" is finished on 1-3 and a little unfinished on 4-5 and 6-8 remain to be done, as I am drafting the course into a book, and they will be incorporated here when they are incorporated into the book.

Thanks for attending!


Tom Hart
Tom Hart
Executive Director of The Sequential Artists Workshop

Tom Hart is a cartoonist and the Executive Director of The Sequential Artists Workshop, a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida. He is the creator of the Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books, and has been nominated for all the major industry awards. His The Collected Hutch Owen was nominated for best graphic novel in 2000. He was an early recipient of a Xeric Grant for self-publishing cartoonists, and has been on many best-of lists in the Comics Journal and other comix publications. He has been called “One of the great underrated cartoonists of our time” by Eddie Campbell and “One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade” by Scott McCloud. His daily Hutch Owen comic strip ran for 2 years in newspapers in New York and Boston, and his “Ali’s House”, co-created with Margo Dabaie was picked up by King Features Syndicate.

He was a core instructor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts for 10 years, teaching cartooning to undergraduates, working adults and teens alike. Among his students were Dash Shaw, Sarah Glidden Box Brown and other published cartoonists like Leslie Stein, Jessica Fink, Josh Bayer, Brendan Leach and many others. He has taught comix and sequential art at schools and institutions all around New York City for more than 10 years, and has conducted week-long workshops from Maine to Hawaii. His Daddy Lightning, was published in March 2012 from Retrofit, and Let’s Get Furious, a 380-page new Hutch Owen digital collection for tablets, is available from Top Shelf. He also teaches sequential art in the School of Art and Art History at UF.

His website is

Tom Hart -

Course Curriculum

Just a Reminder, the PDFS are in progress, and the price will go up for new users when those are complete. FREE
The Love of Drawing FREE
What Can Comics Do? - My Story FREE
Chapter 1 -Why Comics? - Assignment FREE
Chapter 1 -Why Comics? - Tom's Story FREE
Chapter 1 Transcript FREE
Show Content
GATHERING MATERIAL, Figuring Out the Story
Gathering Story Material FREE
Gathering Material - My Story FREE
Chapter 2 -Gathering Material - Assignments
Chapter 2 -Gathering Material - Live Example
Chapter 2 -Gathering Material - Tom's Story
Chapter 2 Transcript
Show Content
Structuring the Story
Structuring the Story - My Story
Chapter 3 -Structuring The Material - Assignments
Chapter 3 -Structuring The Material - Live Example
Chapter 3 -Structuring The Material - Tom's Story
Chapter 3 Transcript
Show Content
Visual Style
Visual Style - My Story
Chapter 4 - Finding a Visual Style - Assignments
Chapter 4 - Finding a Visual Style - Tom's Story
Chapter 4 Transcript
Chapter 4 - Live Example
Show Content
Storytelling Styles
Storytelling Style- My Story
Chapter 5 - Storytelling Style - Assignments
Chapter 5 - Storytelling Style - Tom's Story
Chapter 5 Transcript
Chapter 5 - Storytelling Style Live Example
Show Content
Visual Language Techniques
Visual Language Techniques - My Story
Chapter 6 - Visual Language - Assignments
Chapter 6 Live Example
Chapter 6 - Visual Language - Tom's Story
Chapter 6 Transcript
Show Content
Starting and Working
Starting and Working - My Story
Chapter 7 Assignments
Chapter 7 Live Example
Chapter 7 Tom's Story
Chapter 7 Transcript
Show Content
The Process of Finishing
The Process of Finishing - My Story
Chapter 8 Assignments
Chapter 8 Live Example
Chapter 8 Tom's Story
Chapter 8 Transcript
Show Content