Cover Photo: This is a photo of a hand holding a pencil over a sketchpad. There are twelve small boxes drawn on the sketchpad. In each box is a rough drawing of a scene or person.
Photograph by Lesia and Serhii Artymovych/Unsplash

Make a Comic by Drawing the Little Things

Pick one aspect of your day to expand into a short-form comic.


Daily Diary Exercise

This is a sketch with a list of what you will need for the exercise. There is a drawing of paper, a pen, and a timer. The text reads, "You will need: Loose leaf paper (real paper, from a tree); a pen (no pencils! We're chasing that no-eraser adrenaline rush); a timer (any kind will do).
This is step one. The text reads: Set the timer for 5 minutes. Now, free-write about your day (or, if it's early, about your last twenty-four hours). Focus on concrete details: What did you do? What did you see? How did you feel? What were you thinking? No detail is too small, or to boring. Write quickly! There is a drawing of a person sketching at the bottom of the step.
This is Step 2. The text reads: Go over what you wrote and circle the parts you find most compelling. Did you have more to say about a particular episode? Was the emotion especially strong? Now, pick one of you circled sections to expand.
This is Step 3. There is a drawing of a piece of paper folded halfway vertically and horizontally. The text reads: Take a new sheet of paper and fold it into four, like this, and draw a border around each of the four sections. Voila! Comic panels activated!
This is Step 4. The text reads: Set the timer for 10 minutes. Draw a comic based on the section you picked. Don't worry about a narrative arc; focus on the scene. What can you show, not tell? Which details feel important to include, and what can you leave out? Don't spend too long on any one panel—keep it loose.

reating graphic nonfiction narratives! Class begins in March.

Sofia draws and writes. She has been contributing cartoons regularly to The New Yorker since 2017, and her work has also appeared in MoMA Magazine, Catapult, and Narrative Magazine, among others. Her graphic memoir, Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator, was published by Top Shelf Productions in 2022. Her animation and/or illustration clients include Cartier, HBOMax, Phillips Auction House, and Squarespace. She is a visiting professor at Wesleyan University, where she teaches molecular biophysics… no, that’s not right. She teaches comics. She is based in Brooklyn.

Photo credit: Jordan Kenna