SCBWI Canada East Blog

August 7, 2017

4:37 PM 2
Looking to push your storytelling skills, practice composition, &/or improve the movement & variety in your illustrations?

Make comics!

I was working through John Hendrix’s Drawing is Magic when I fell in love with what I like to call “quickie comics.” The exercise was to create a 6 panel comic with a beginning, middle, and end featuring two characters in conflict. (I highly recommend this book by the way!)

This is now an exercise that I do on a semi-regular basis. Most of my quickie comics focus on little moments of tension with my children. It’s a fun way to document those little moments in life. But it would also be a great way to explore story ideas & characters.

I’m enjoying myself so much that I’ve taken the plunge & started my first graphic novel.

How I make my quickie comics:
  1. Brainstorm a beginning, middle, & end.
  2. Brainstorm approx 6 different images
  3. Break my page into thirds & divvy up into panels.
  4. Rough in my illustrations with pencil
  5. Apply ink
  6. Add captions/dialogue if necessary
  7. Wish I’d remembered to leave room for captions/dialogue.
  8. Add some colour with whatever I have handy.
  9. Admire my handiwork.
  10. Share with family/friends/social media.
  11. Admire my handiwork some more.

My rules for my Quickie comics:
  • There has to be emotion
  • There has to be variety
  • There has to be movement
  • There has to be conflict
  • It has to be quick ( ~ 1 hour, occasionally 2 hours max.)
  • It has to be finished but does not need to be perfect

If you’re keen to explore comics/graphic novels as more than just a quick exercise, here are a few great resources to explore:

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

SVSLearn.com has two great courses:
  • Drawing Comics (Jake Parker) 
  • Making Graphic Novels (Nathan Hale)


  1. Excellent, Marla! I was Just looking at Scott McCloud's books last week, pondering if I should buy one (or two). I'll check out the other resources you mentioned. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for this post, Marla! I have a graphic novel dummy in progress and could use a little guidance. I am going to try the Quickie Comics exercise and check out those links.