Going in for the Snakes
NOTE: This class is offered at a sliding scale. Pay what you can afford. All prices listed are for the same course.
Life is too short to make superficial stories. Let's give our hearts some air and our spirits some light.
“Today, writing, for me, is above all a battle to avoid lying” - Elena Ferrante
I Have No Idea How If We Will Succeed!
After years of trying some of these methods in my own work, in my daughter's memoir and in the classroom at The Sequential Artists Workshop, I know that these methods work, but we gotta have the strength to go in. I've tried it and been lazy, and I've tried it and been strong. It's always better when I go in strong?
How will you go in?
What We'll Do
We'll look at some of my favorite direct and indirect emotional, visceral and powerful comics. We'll read popular samples from Chester Brown, Lynda Barry, Julia Gfrorer, Chris Ware and little seen examples from Kristen Radtke, Leonie Brailey, Alabaster, Josh Bayer and many many more. We'll use their brilliances to guide us.
We'll examine some of our own favorite art, songs and stories. We'll work together and alone, we'll combine ideas, we'll use our mother's favorite song.
We'll do some writing each session.
We'll figure out ways to depict these ideas, and sometimes we'll start with images and see which stories seem to relate.
In all of this, we'll be trying to locate a beating heart we had maybe neglected or not known about it, and we'll try to tell its story in words and pictures.
Going in for the Snakes
The Snakes are the hard things, the difficult material, the stuff that will bite you. But you and Pee-Wee Herman and Indiana Jones and Elena Ferrante know that if you can confront them, you will be powerful.
Joseph Campbell says, "The snake is the symbol of life throwing off the past and continuing to live… It is the power of life, because the snake sheds its skin, just as the moon sheds its shadow."
This is the course where we'll grow from the power of our art. Where we will transmute wounds and sorrow into lightness and strength.
This class is a weekly series of topics, exercises and conversations.
I'm hoping you'll share and recommend other readings confidently.
(example from Julia Gfrorer, Black is the Color)
Will this class actually work?
I know it's easier to just make silly diary comics about what's in our fridge, or comics our friends will like on Facebook, but I also know we've got a real story to tell, and we ought tell it.
I know that not digging around for the hard stuff is worse than avoiding it.
But I also know it's hard! We sometimes have to come at it from the side, dig around with our eyes closed, throw some stones in and listen for the echoes.
And I know that if we work at it and find and transmute some of that harder stuff, then we'll free a new freedom and satisfaction and strength.
From STAR HAWK - DREAMING THE DARK:
“Take, for example, this cluster of things: a naked woman, a snake, a tree, an apple. Let us forget that they care the icons of The Fall, and consider, first, a real snake, perhaps the one that lives with me. I watch her slow movements, feel the strength in her long body, see her skin grow dull, her eyes cloud over until she looks lifeless -- and I wake one morning to find her old skin crumples like a discarded nylon stocking. She has slipped out, her scales iridescent, her eyes bright; she is hungry now, on the prowl, new again. And I could say that to me, the snake as a symbol now means, not The Fall, but renewal, resurrection. Yet that also would be false, because in the language of magic the symbol has no intellectually assigned meaning; it is a pointer that says, “Look. Pay attention to this thing.” And in giving my attention to the living being of my snake, I learn -- not just with my mind but with my senses, my experience-- about renewal. Yet you might learn something else."
I'm Tom Hart.
I have always tried to be serious and emotional, even in my funny work. Eventually, I found myself having to tell the story of my daughter. It took what practices I had already developed to do it with the depth and respect I felt was called for.
(me and Molly Rose)
If you're like I am, you’ve got many scraps of notes, half-started stories, and pictures with nowhere to go.
But I've always believed that we have to make something, we have believe in Who We Are Now and tell our story. From there, we can become deeper and stronger. Through our work, we'll change ourselves.
In 2012, I founded a school on the belief that anyone can access their imagination and empower their artistic lives.
I'm creating the curriculum now based on last class and new findings.
And will probably be working on it as we launch. Curriculum below will be tentative.
Each week we will look at great stories, do a small exercise and be asked to share as much as we are comfortable in the group page. There will be some collaboration. The class may go 6 or 8 weeks, and we may just feel like keeping the group going longer.
In the spirit of a quote I once heard, "Not the transmission of knowledge, but the creation of knowledge", we'll see how you guys think the course should end.
Maybe everyone shoots for a different final goal: a completed sketchbook, a 3-page story, a box of index cards, a trip to the sauna.
Thanks to Tim Kreider and Megan Kelso for briefing me on this amazing metaphor...
This class ran in-person at SAW in Gainesville, FL and we're offering it you here now.
NOTE: This class is offered at a sliding scale. Pay what you can afford.All prices listed are for the same course.
- Video Intro to Us and Love
- EXERCISE - One more song lyric
- Readings - Alabaster, Barry, Bell and More
- Barry - My Perfect Life; Doug
- Gabrielle Bell - Excerpt from Everything is Flammable
- Seiichi Hayashi - Red Dragonfly, 1968
- Moto Hagio - Hanshin, Half-God
- Swamp Thing 56
- Assignment - lovers parting or reuiniting
- Video Introduction to Bodies, Birth and Death
- Readings - Vandistendael, Alabaster, Gloeckner
- Alabaster - The Complete Talamaroo
- Phoebe Gloeckner - The Sad Tale of the Visible Woman and Her Invisible Man
- Eleanor Davis - The Fox
- Judith Vandistendael - Excerpt from When David Lost His Voice
- Ken Dahl - Excerpt from Monsters
- Pictorial Exercises - Sketch from Videos or photos
- Assignment: Bodies, Birth and Death
Executive Director of The Sequential Artists Workshop
About the instructor
Tom Hart is a cartoonist has been the Executive Director of The Sequential Artists Workshop, a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida since 2012.
His 2016 memoir, Rosalie Lightning, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and was featured on many Best-Of-2016 lists.
His Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books, were nominated for all the major industry awards. His The Collected Hutch Owenwas 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. He also teaches sequential art in the School of Art and Art History at UF.
A couple other recent books:
Let’s Get Furious
The Sequential Artists Workshop Guide to Making Professional Comic Strips
His website is http://www.tomhart.net
What others have been saying about this course:
Tom created a teaching environment that fostered open discussion, unbiased attitudes and a love for understanding how comics work and the kind of work we wanted to make. - Jess Fink
|Tom's approach to education and guidance offers sensitivity and candor in equal measure. He offers technical insight across genre boundaries, adapting his criteria to each student's goals and aesthetic preferences. - Dan Strauss|
|Tom is a magical teacher and all-around great guy. He did not just help my brain understand how to create a good comic, but also opened my eyes to tons of great cartoonists, provided advice outside of class time, helped me find a thesis advisor, lent me fantastic books, etc. (the list goes on.) - Jess Worby|
|You make comic stories, storytelling so exciting and fun. I know I came to you with a crazy idea of writing a story. I don't think I'd have embarked on such an ambitious journey without your enthusiasm, boundless optimism, and most importantly, a belief in the story - Anna Kim|
- I’ve been struggling to pull a full story together despite having ideas all the time. This class gave me effective tools to follow through with the storytelling process.
- The course was fun, interesting and useful. I’ve already used the process on other projects.
- Very inspiring teacher! Well structured sequence of exercises that really helped me to develop my work.
- Really, Tom, this was an amazing course. You opened up whole lot of creative possibilities for me. I am really looking forward to more courses!