Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
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Sequential Imagery, Comics, and Storyboarding

Comics and Storyboarding

Explore the potential of sequential storytelling as applied to a personal narrative. Students will be required to produce a 3-5 page comic book which relates to a personal experience, but can be re-imagined as science fiction, noir, gothic, superhero, horror, memoir or another genre. Students may also take a more straightforward approach if they choose. Class will focus on developing unique and personal means of expression as well as technique and appropriate style. Participation in class critiques and discussions will be an essential part of the class.

Students will tour the VCU Library’s Special Collection which houses one of the most extensive collections of all things comic related on the east coast, and an outing to Velocity Comics, one of the best comic book stores in the eastern U.S. Students will also be focusing on developing character model sheets for their main character(s), and environments for the main scenes of their stories which becomes preproduction concept work for their final comics.

Students will also spend some time developing realistic drawing skills based on observation, an essential skill necessary for creating a portfolio for college admissions. Through presentations and demos students will learn how to see by evaluating predictable patterns of light, and how to then process visual information in ways that aid image translation by the hand to two-dimensional surfaces. Students will keep a sketchbook for notes and will produce 3-5 large drawings.

Required text: “Making Comics” by Scott McCloud available on Amazon or at Richmond’s Velocity Comics.

Required tools: t-square, non-repro blue pencils, an assortment of graphite pencils and/or mechanical pencils, HB to 2B, 11″ x 17″ drawing surfaces for example 2 to 3 ply Bristol Vellum, drafting triangle, brushes and/or marker pens for example Micron, Copic, Pentel, etc.


Kelly Alder is an award-winning illustrator with over 30 years of experience in the field working in editorial, advertising, animation, publishing and sequential art. He attended VCU for his undergraduate studies in the Painting and Printmaking department and received an MFA in Visual Journalism/Illustration from SVA in New York. His work has been recognized by Society of Illustrator’s annuals 49 and 51, American Illustration’s annual 28 Web Gallery, Print magazine design annuals 1987, 2006 and Communication Arts illustration annual 1997. Some of his clients include Atlantic Monthly, Business Week, Bloomberg Magazine, CFA Magazine, Disney Adventures, Forbes, Fortune, Men’s Health, New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Washington Post, Virginia Living, DC Comics, AdHouse Books, St. Martin’s Press, Monitor Group, Virginia Historical Society, Tiffany’s and MammaZu. He owns and operates a local t-shirt company, popidiot, that specializes in the flotsam and jetsam of pop culture. Alder has taught in VCU’s Communication Arts and Fashion programs since 2009. To see some of his work visit, and