Hi Alexandra –
A shame that you couldn’t get into the class – it was just approved at the last minute, and so, I think that there’s a few folk like yourself…
Regardless, I would advise you to look at Will Eisner’s two books – ‘Comics & Sequential Art’ and ‘Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative’. Scott McCloud’s ‘Understanding Comics’ has become a touchstone book, and his ‘Making Comics’ is a nice companion.
Those books are the ones that people most often reference when talking about comic construction, and I think that at least three of them are available through the GSA library.
There’s also a great book by Ivan Brunetti called ‘Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice’, which you can get on Amazon for £10. It’s a 16 week syllabus of a course that he teaches in the USA, and is sandwiched between two longer essays which talk about his philosophy of the medium. One of the things that he mentions in his book is that with the rising popularity of comics, and the formal education that’s surrounding them now, that it could spawn a wave of technically reliable, but uninspiring, work.
And to that point, I would suggest that if you want to use comics as a way to develop your medium, make some comics. Then read a little bit of the ‘how-to’ books, then make some more comics. And let your natural voice and style develop in a way that makes sense for you. Read a lot of different graphic novels (again, the GSA library has a great selection) and general literature as well, then see what inspires you. I know this must sound like general ‘just-do-it’ kind of advice, but I think that some of the power that the medium possesses is that it really is kind of a young art form with a punk format, where anyone can do anything they want. There are some general rules about what usually works best and what doesn’t, but that’s not to say that you can’t subvert that and make something that’s new.
If you’d like to send me any of your work to look at, or meet to discuss it, I’d be happy to do so.