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Matthew Forsythe's visual storytelling lab: 'You need a voice you can tune into'

The Mordecai Richler writer-in-residence teaches the power of comics. PLUS: Attend his April 20 Thinking Out Loud event!
April 19, 2017
By Christian Durand

How can working with a new medium make you a better storyteller?

Over the winter term, 15 undergraduate students — most from Concordia’s Creative Writing Program — worked with graphic novelist and Mordecai Richler writer-in-residence Matthew Forsythe as part of “ENG 429 - Graphic Storytelling.”

Drawing abilities were not a prerequisite. Rather, the idea behind the class was to challenge students to create engaging comics and explore the potential of creative storytelling.

Forsythe wanted to create a laboratory setting.

“I tried to encourage students to be concise and draw to their strengths,” he says.

“We stressed that it was important that images not repeat texts so that the reader was able to come to their own conclusions.”

Working in the Richler Reading Room, students explored visual storytelling in graphic novels, children’s books and television animation. They then produced their own comics and dissected the visuals, narrative, character development and themes with their classmates.

Given their limited visual art experience coming into the class, Forsythe was impressed with the evolution of the students’ work. 

“By the end of the course, most had a voice they could tune into.”

‘Drawing and writing have distinct energies’


Elizabeth Smith: “One of the main lessons I've taken from this class, and that I've tried to execute in this comic specifically, is to ensure that both the drawing and the writing have distinct energies.”

Johnathan Clark: “Comics and animation industries create character definition and high emotion through directional flows, contrasting values and juxtaposition of images.”

Nicola Sibthorpe: “My comic is about two friends.”


Concordia’s Mordecai Richler writer-in-residence Matthew Forsythe talks about creating comics and graphic novels as part of Thinking Out Loud and the Blue Metropolis Festival on April 20. The event takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the D.B. Clarke Theatre (1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.) on the Sir George Williams Campus.



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