Thursday, July 20, 2017

Graphic Novel Workshop: How to Make Great Comics

Graphic Novel Workshop Kenny Porter

The Graphic Novel Workshop put on by Avenue for the Arts in Grand Rapids was fantastic. I got to talk to people excited about making their own comics while talking to other creators about process, self-publishing and making good comics.

If you missed the workshop, here's a quick rundown of what we talked about.

Graphic Novel Workshop

The workshop was hosted by Avenue for the Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were kind enough to host the event in their space on Divison Avenue and the seats quickly filled up for the event. We had four panelists including myself, Jim Towe (who was nice enough to Skype in), Cody Flowers, and Lamont Arrington. Jackie Vega acted as the moderator and we answered questions that she prepared, as well as questions from the audience and each other.

Graphic Novel Workshop

It gave me a chance to talk about creating Barnstormers! with an audience and to share my experiences with running the Kickstarter campaign. There were copies of Barnstormers! circulated around the audience so that people could see the finished product and work that was put into the book.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel

I also talked about working on Yakuza for SEGA and what it's like to do licensed work. I talked about the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book (from my perspective it has to do with length and pacing) and how writers, artists, letterers, colorists, and editors are involved.

Yakuza SEGA Kenny Porter Comic
Cover for Chapter #3 of the YAKUZA adaptation for SEGA

Jim talked about working on Youngblood and how being a comic book artist is essentially like being an architect, cinematographer, and fashion designer all rolled into one. He expanded on getting to work with Rob Liefeld on one of his favorite superhero projects, as well as how to maximize your time as an artist struggling to break in or make your first comic or graphic novel.

Cody Flowers discussed his work on The Neighborhood Watch and talked about getting started as a writer/artist on his own work. He sells his comics through both Comixology and the Vault of Midnight store in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

How to Make Great Graphic Novels and Comics

Here are some quick tips and tricks culled from the answers in the panel. They covered tips on making comics for both writers and artists looking to start in the industry. These are very short descriptions about what we discussed on the panel, but you'll get the general idea on how to get started.


  • Study comic book storytelling by reading scripts, comics, and any and all fiction.
  • Talk to artists about writing for the page and visual storytelling.
  • Join a writer's group to trade scripts and get criticism for your work.
  • Start out by writing shorts (4-8 Pages) to get familiar with comic book storytelling.


  • Draw as often as possible--participate in fun events like Inktober to keep up and share your work.
  • Read books on anatomy and artwork to help hone your skills.
  • Bring your sample pages to editors at conventions and shows (great for feedback).
  • Talk to other artists to get criticism and improve your storytelling.

Extended Q&A

If you weren't able to attend the workshop--don't worry! You can comment below and I'll answer any questions you have about making comics, graphic novels, or running a Kickstarter campaign for your book.

Feel free to ask any burning questions you have and I'll get to them ASAP!

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