Subtext in Comics: How to Tell a Layered Story with Marian Churchland

Life is full of layers. When a friend tells us they’re “doing fine”, we know – automatically – that this is a vast oversimplification. Entire worlds lie hidden behind our day to day conversations and social customs, so how can we reflect that in the medium of comics?

This four week course explores different kinds of passive storytelling. It looks at the various ways a comic artist can add atmospheric, narrative, and emotional depth to their pages, and it provides creative exercises that encourage participants to find their own unique approach to the topics discussed.

PLEASE NOTE: This course will take place over Moodle (LINK) and Zoom (LINK), both free browser applications. Moodle is an open-source learning platform where all the lessons, activities, and forums can be accessed for the course. Zoom is a videoconferencing software where the online meetings will occur. Once you have registered for the course via Eventbrite, you will be sent information and instructions about how to access both Moodle and Zoom.

Registration is limited, and 10 spaces are reserved for participants living in British Columbia. As well, at this time, this course is for adults aged 18 and older.

Click on the “Register Here!” below to register through our Eventbrite page.


Dates, times and topics

Written content and project instructions will be posted on Moodle on the following Mondays: November 16th, November 23rd, November 30th, and December 7th.

Online meetings will occur from 10am – 11am on the following Sundays: November 22nd, November 29th, December 6th, and December 13th.

Week 1: November 16th – November 22nd : Body Language, Expressions, and Character Detail

Week 2: November 23rd – November 29th: Background Details and Scenery

Week 3: November 30th – December 6th: Line and Shape

Week 4: December 7th – December 13th: Visual Oddities and Anomalies


Course Requirements

Because this is a 4-week course, by registering you will be committing to:

  • Engage in an online meeting, 1 hour per week from 10am – 11am on the following Sundays: November 22nd, November 29th, December 6th, and December 13th.
  • An additional hour (and optionally more) of coursework each week.
  • Share assignments and receive feedback (sharing weekly assignments is part of the course, while sharing short class exercises is optional).
  • Follow our code of conduct when giving  feedback, when engaging in class discussions and when posting on the class forums.

All experience levels welcome. In this workshop, the aim isn’t to produce polished comics but to experiment with comics in ways that will support and improve your work.


About Marian

Marian Churchland is a writer and visual artist living in Vancouver, BC, and has worked in the comics industry for over ten years. Their first graphic novel, Beast, won the Russ Manning award, and their most recent work, The Hchom Book, was published by Image Comics in 2019.

Marian’s Website (LINK)


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