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Creator’s Corner: Exercises in Cartooning Weeks 10-12

I’m a writer, not an artist. But for one more week, I’m going to be a cartoonist with assignments from the great Ivan Brunetti’s cartooning class.

And you can join me on this journey–not only by seeing what I do, but by completing the exercises I do along with me.

*Note* To see Week 1’s adventures, click here, to see Week 2’s adventures, click here,  to see Week 3’s adventures, click here, to see Week 4’s adventures, click here, to see Week 5’s adventures, click here,  to see Week 6’s adventures, click here, to see Week 7’s adventures, click here, to see Week 8’s adventures, click here, and to see Week 9’s adventures, click here.

The great cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, also a teacher of comics/cartooning, has a book that publishes his course; it is a 10 week “class” that has a few exercises for each week, some of which I might even use in my own graphic novel class.  I thought it’d be fun–especially since I’m a writer and need to challenge my skills as an artist–to run myself through his course and post each of my exercise on here.  So without further ado…

Exercise 10

This is a culmination of all the assignments done so far: Brunetti wants his “students” to draw a 4-6 page comic (or around there–I think if you went longer, he’d be fine with that; he wants something extended, though, so going shorter doesn’t really work).
He has no rules other than that page count, to use black-and-white (other colors allowed if wanted), and to add lettering.

Here’s what I came up with (5 pages but it’s not the whole story; the one I’m creating–“Standard of Ur”, the first installment in a series titled Obej D’Art: A History of the World’s Greatest Treasures–got away from me).

I didn’t outline this piece ahead of time (just a page at a time) so that lack of strict structure has let me explore more, and in the process, create a longer, more complex piece.

To see the whole comic (and other free comics) check out my website at

Without further ado, here are the pages.


Page 1: Woolley’s Journey

standard of ur p 01


Looting the Royal Cemetery

standard of ur p 02


Pieces of History

standard of ur p 03


A Puzzle Box

standard of ur p 04


The Art of the Deal

standard of ur p 05


A few notes of reflection:

  1. I decided on doing this non-fiction, relic-based work for a few reasons.  First, I love history (I teach English, but I also have a history major).  Secondly, I know my anatomy and character work is rough to say the least, so I wanted to draw something that played to my strengths–objects, setting, and parts of people–and downplayed my weaknesses–drawing whole people.
  2. On reflection, I think the scratchy, unpolished nature of this piece works for the subject matter (Form follows function here).  Given that it’s about an ancient relic that itself didn’t have the fanciest artwork, especially after it experienced degradation, my scratchy line-work seems like it could’ve been done at the same time the Standard was created.
  3. Finally, although I love going old school, the number of mistakes and the cost in time due to those mistakes inspired me to buy a Wacom tablet and go digital–I’m not doing that until after finish the Standard short piece.  After all, I don’t want the rest of this piece to look suddenly better when that doesn’t fit the substance and style of the whole piece.
  4. I also like the ease of digitally lettering, but I might go old-school for that one piece of my next entries: hand-lettering can add more nuance, personality, and a better fit for hand-drawn panels.
  5. I like the chapter/page title “The Art of the Deal” because it offers a concise, contemporary connection to a piece of history–I’m always trying to find those present, human touches that can make history come alive.  That being said, it’s not an endorsement of President Trump or that book (I’ve never read it).  So Never Trumps and Trump suppoters, don’t read too much into it.


That’s about it.  Thanks for joining me on this long journey–it certainly turned into about a year instead of just 3 months, but I hope you understand that teaching, writing Rebirth of the Gangster, self-publishing, and having a life got in the way.  I appreciate your patience, and I hope to hear some feedback from some of you and see you at future conventions.

As always, to contact me or just see what I’m up to visit me at

And if you’d like to continue reading about the Standard of Ur and other great objects in world history, check out

Thanks for tuning in, and I hope I inspired you to be the cartoonist you are!

Almost American