THIS WINTER, aspiring graphic novelists have a rare chance to learn from the best of the best: Brian Michael Bendis. The Portland resident is one of the most successful and acclaimed comicbook writers in the country, with best-selling titles such as Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil.
Bendis’s class taps into a pool of students who are eager to break into Portland’s bustling comics scene and learn how to use words and art to tell a story, a skill that’s in high demand in an increasingly visual and digital world. In addition, Portland State aspires to become known for its graphic novel program.
The University’s Branford P. Millar Library gained national recognition in 2008 when it acquired the only complete research collection of Dark Horse Comics anywhere. Dark Horse, the third-largest comics publisher in the United States, is based in the Portland suburb of Milwaukie, and its founder and executive vice president are Portland State graduates.
Michele Glazer, director of Portland State’s new Master of Fine Arts program, said the University has offered literature classes about graphic novels before. But Bendis’s class is the first to focus on writing graphic novels.
“I don’t see it as a one-shot thing at all,” Glazer said. “It’s an important thing that’s influencing writing, not just locally. We’re lucky to be in the hub of it.”
Image: Student Joshua Williamson learned about graphic novel story structure, drama, pacing, and dialogue in a class by Brian Michael Bendis, who is teaching again winter term.