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Reading and Writing the Graphic Novel (CLOSED)

Graphic novels are one of the fastest-growing and most diverse areas of publishing, from award-winning children’s literature to complex works of fact and fiction for a wide spectrum of readers. In this course, we will explore the diversity of graphic novels and learn how writers conceptualize their works, create stories and scripts, and work with artists.

Reading will include graphic novels for younger readers and adults such as Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. The course will also include works on how to create comics and graphic novels by Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, Matt Madden, and other artist-writer-educators in the field.

Students will analyze graphic novels, study the many methods for creating literary and visual stories, and learn how to create their own works.

Also included are field trips to local arts venues that feature collections and other resources related to comics and graphic novels.

Students interested in reading, creative writing, and storytelling through visual arts are invited to apply. 


This course is offered at the UMass Amherst campus as a residential program. Local students may apply to attend as a commuter.


N. C. Christopher Couch holds a PhD in art history from Columbia University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Latin American art and on graphic novels and comic art, including The Will Eisner Companion: The Pioneering Spirit of the Father of the Graphic Novel (with Stephen Weiner), Will Eisner: A Retrospective (with Peter Myer), Faces of Eternity: Masks of the Pre-Columbian Americas, and The Festival Cycle of the Aztec Codex Borbonicus.

He curated exhibitions at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library American Museum of Natural History, the Americas Society, the Oklahoma Air and Space Museum and the Smith College Museum of Art. He was senior editor at Kitchen Sink Press (Northampton), editor in chief at CPM Manga (New York, and has taught at Amherst, Columbia, Hampshire, Haverford, Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges, and the School of Visual Arts. Publications he edited won or were nominated for 17 Eisner and Harvey Awards, and he has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, Dumbarton Oaks of Harvard University, and the Newberry Library. Current publications include the edited volume Conversations with Harvey Kurtzman, and a book on Batman artist and editorial cartoonist Jerry Robinson.