Take a Giant Leap Forward
with Your Comics Work!
Get the tools and knowledge you need for success as a kids or YA
graphic novel creator in this live, hands-on 13-week online course.
Get notified for 2024 registration!
Quick Course Overview
Kids Comics Intensive is a 13-week online course focused on helping you make significant progress in writing, drawing, and selling your kids/YA graphic novel work. The first four weeks focus exclusively on writing. You can sign up for only the first session or for the whole course.
Weeks 1-4 Writing Graphic Novels: We will start with the basics of writing and drawing a graphic novel. Then we’ll move on to advanced approaches in plotting, character and world building, and scripting.
Weeks 5-12 Visual Storytelling and Getting Published: We’ll cover all the most important visual storytelling techniques in comics, including storyboarding, paneling, page turns, coloring, lettering, and more. We’ll also review the production process and how to manage your time. And finally, we’ll discuss how to get an agent or self-publish, and take charge of your creative career.
Course sessions are LIVE. Replays will be available within 24 hrs afterward.
This course include:
- Live weekly critiques and Q&A follow up sessions
- Camaraderie and new friendships with fellow kids graphic novelists
- Curated small peer groups
- Targeted, practical weekly lessons
- Weekly challenges to help you practice skills right away
- Dedicated online peer community
- Craft and career building Final Project (Full Intensive Students Only!)
- Structured format that guarantees concrete progress if you put in the work
“Taking Janna's Intensive class was a huge lift creatively and psychologically and helped me figure out a positive trajectory for my work.”—Alexis E. Fajardo, Kid Beowulf
“I’m realizing I had a lot of anxiety and resistance about some of the concepts. The class helped me flip that mentality and I feel a lot more positive and relaxed. “—Jenny Mannis
“I started a new comic idea, found a collaboration partner and created a pitch package, started a newsletter and blog, and have a plan to improve my website.”—Sarah Steinberg
“I have more confidence, motivation, and dedication to my storytelling craft both visually and in written form.”—Milani Hunt
“I loved the coaching calls; it's so important to not only ask the mentors questions… but to also listen to what my peers have to share and say about their work.”—Alondra Araujo-Ruiz
Who is the Intensive for?
This program is perfect for you if:
- You’re getting started in your career as a creator
- You’re a writer, illustrator or writer-illustrator looking to take your work to the next level
- You’re familiar with traditional children’s books but want to learn more about making children’s graphic novels
- You’re familiar with comics publishing but want to learn more about graphic novels in the children’s book space
- You’ve been at it for a long time and still haven’t gotten your breakout book published
- You’ve been published but still aren’t making as much money or having as much of an impact as you want
- You’re self-publishing and want a solid plan to maximize your success
- You need hands-on accountability to improve your craft & business in children’s comics
Meet your instructors!
Rivkah LaFille (pronounced "lah-fee") is a children's writer, illustrator, and graphic novelist who specializes in slice-of-life type stories with HEART. Her graphic novel series, STEADY BEAT, was nominated to the American Library Association's Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. Currently, she is working on a graphic novel about creative writing with First Second and a YA literary GN with Candlewick. She teaches the art of writing and illustrating children's comics at Kids Comics Unite and is an active member of the SCBWI.
Janna Morishima is a literary agent specializing in graphic novels and visual storytelling. She started her career at Scholastic, where she co-founded the Graphix imprint. She is also the founder of Kids Comics Unite, an online community for kids and YA graphic novel professionals.
Full Intensive: 2/2 – 4/27 | Writing Only: 2/2 – 2/23
Classes meets on Thursdays at 12:00 PM EST for weekly lessons and Tuesdays for weekly coaching calls. Tuesdays may alternate between 8pm EST and another
chosen time earlier in the day to allow everyone a chance to attend some.
Weeks 1-4 Writing Graphic Novels: We will start with the basics of writing and drawing a graphic novel. Then we’ll move on to advanced approaches in plotting, character and world building, and scripting. (February 2nd-February 28th)
Weeks 5-12 Visual Storytelling and Getting Published: We’ll cover all the most important visual storytelling techniques in comics, including storyboarding, paneling, page turns, coloring, lettering, and more. We’ll also review the production process and how to manage your time. And finally, we’ll discuss how to get an agent or self-publish, and take charge of your creative career. (March 2nd-April 28th)
- Improve your craft in writing and drawing graphic novels for kids
- Deep-dive into plot structures, dialogue, and opening scenes while finding your unique individual voice
- Explore visual storytelling techniques such a effective utilization of camera angles, timing, pacing, framing, and using contrast to effectively show stories
- Learn techniques for self-critique and utilize throughout the entire course while receiving feedback from both peers and instructors
- Learn about the technical and productivity side of graphic novels, from tools and techniques to setting a realistic schedule
Feb 2nd, 2023
|Introduction & Kidlit Comics 101|
Feb 9th, 2023
|The Graphic Novel Script: Part I – Plot|
Feb 16th, 2023
|The Graphic Novel Script: Part II – Dialog & Characters|
Feb 23rd, 2023
|The Graphic Novel Script: Part III – Story|
—Writing Only Course Ends—
March 2nd, 2023
|Visual Narrative in Comics: Part I – Cinematics|
March 9th, 2023
|Visual Narrative in Comics: Part II – Time|
March 16th, 2023
|Visual Narrative in Comics: Part III – Flow|
March 23rd, 2023
|Graphic Novel Finishes: From Roughs to Print|
March 30th, 2023
April 6th, 2023
|Getting Your Graphic Novel Made|
April 13th, 2023
|All About Publishing! (Agents, Editors, Pitches, and More!)|
April 20th, 2023
|Building Your “Platform” by Focusing on Your Strengths|
April 24-27th, 2023
|Critique Week and Final Project Live Critique with Rivkah LaFille, Janna Morishima, & Special Guest Editor!|
|Weekly||Includes a weekly live-critique and open Q&A session with Rivkah as well as weekly group critiques with your peers!|
Why Your Work Matters
You might sometimes feel exhausted, trying to build your career little by little. Or you have so many ideas and feel pulled in so many different directions that you get paralyzed by indecision. Or you’ve gotten enough rejections that you want to hide under your blankets and never come out.
In fact, there might be some really low moments when you feel like giving up.
Here’s why you should absolutely, positively never give up:
- You have stories inside you. Those stories are meaningful to you… and you want them to make an impact on real-life kids. Kids who might be similar to you when you were young.
- When you get those stories out, share them and polish them and do the hard work to make them the best they could possibly be… then get them published and put them into kids’ hands… you’ll have accomplished something truly remarkable.
- You’ll feel fulfilled, both personally and professionally.
Although the world is different now, there are some things that will never change. You have to do the work. You have to connect with your people. You have to entertain and inspire your readers, not just in your books, but as a writer or artist — as a human being.
If you do these things well, you’ll build a rock-solid career.
So if you’re ready to dive headfirst into creating your best work and connecting with readers who love you… please join us. Let’s make it happen.
Past Student Work
Let’s do this
Ready to step up and make it happen in 2024?
Enrollment opens on January 28th and closes on January 31st. Registration for the 2023 Intensive is through the KCU website. Click here to enroll.
- Click one of the "Select Option" buttons above
- Select Intensive: Full OR Intensive: Writing Only
- Select “Pay in Full” or “Pay Deposit” (to pay in installments)
- Add to cart
- You will be prompted to create an account on the website to complete the registration process. Note: This is a separate account from your KCU Mighty Network account. Don't try to log in using your Mighty Network credentials. If you registered for Pitchfest, you have an account on the KCU website, and can log into that account to register for the Intensive.
If you have any issues registering, please contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be a live lesson every Thursday at 12:00 pm EST, starting on Thursday Feb. 2nd. The group coaching call will be every Tuesday with alternating times between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm EST.
The full Intensive runs from February 2nd–April 27th. If you take only the writing portion of the Intensive, that portion runs from February 2nd–February 28th.
Thursday lessons are 2 hours and the Tuesday Coaching Calls are anywhere from 1.5-2 hours, depending how many participants are involved.
Both classes and coaching calls will be done via Zoom. You can submit your questions for the group coaching call in advance, if you can't attend in person, and we will answer your questions on the call so you can listen to the replay to get the answers. You can also type questions in the Zoom chat while the class is live, both during lessons as well as coaching calls.
The coaching calls will be recorded and accessible afterwards.
The great thing about building this program as part of the Kids Comics Unite community is that it will still be easy for you to connect with fellow program participants after the program has ended. Also, the program lessons (Zoom recordings, pdfs, templates, etc) will be archived in the Course and you’ll have access to it even after the program ends.
Kids Comics Intensive costs $1950 and can be paid in four payments of $487.50.
Kids Comics Intensive [Writing only] costs $650 and can be paid in two payments of $325.
Kids Comics Studio members can enroll in the course at the discounted rate of $1500, paid in four payments of $375. We will give you a link to register at the discount price.
We have had MANY writers take the full course and benefit from it because it taught them how to think visually about their work, which is something that isn't covered in-depth in the writing portion of the Intensive.
Certain portions may not be as relevant for writers-only (especially the technical lessons), but we cover pacing, timing, page turns, and paneling...all things that writers should know if they want to make their absolute best graphic novel script! And because we cover the publishing/marketing/business of graphic novels in the last few lessons of the Intensive, you can benefit from that, too!!!
This is a very common and critical question that many creators wrestle with. Our own firm belief is that you must write the book of your heart. But you must also look for peers and mentors who can look at your work with an outsiders’ perspective and help you see its strengths and weaknesses; who its audience is; and where it fits in the market.
It’s a constant dance between listening to what your heart is telling you, then sharing that with trusted people who can help guide you forward. It’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to listen. Sometimes you start in one place, with one specific expectation of where you’re going with your creative work, but in the end -- if you are open to feedback and being flexible -- you end up somewhere completely unexpected.
We specifically designed the program so that you’ll be making concrete progress on your creative work. Another key element of the program is helping you develop strong relationships with kindred spirits (ie, your peers) who can read your work with an experienced eye, give you fresh ideas, and renew your enthusiasm and motivation on a regular basis (even long after the course is over!).
Absolutely. There are many successful creators who create work aimed at widely varying audiences. One example is Jenni Holm, whom we interviewed for Kids Comics Studio on July 15th, 2020. She creates everything from the silly Squish graphic novel series aimed at early elementary school kids, to Sunny Side Up, an emotional graphic novel series aimed at middle school readers, to prose novels like the Newbery Honor winning Our Only May Amelia. Another example is Craig Thompson -- he’s done many highly influential graphic novels for adults (Blankets, Habibi), but has also published graphic novels for kids (Space Dumplins for Scholastic Graphix, and numerous one-shots for the now defunct Nickelodeon magazine).
There are also many, many successful artists and writers who split their work between adult and kid audiences. It is totally possible to work in different genres and for different types of readers.
For Kids Comics Intensive, though, you will pick one project to focus on, so you make significant progress on that specific project over the duration of the course.
All the fundamental principles we’ll be teaching in Kids Comics Intensive apply to almost any type of book creator. At its heart, what we’ll be working on is: how to constantly improve your work; how to be clear and confident about who you are as a writer/artist; and how to connect with your readers. These principles apply whether you’re making kids’ graphic novels, or something related but different (for example, hybrid illustrated chapter books, or picture books with comics elements).
Most of the specific examples we’ll use in the program will be from the children’s and YA graphic novel world, and the majority of the participants will be working in those areas. But this will be a very inclusive and welcoming community and we are happy to have you join us if you are a picture book creator, a graphic novelist working on content for teens or “new” adults, or something else. We can all learn from each other.
This program will be a fantastic place to make friends, build connections, and network with future allies. You might not meet the exact person you end up collaborating with, but you might meet the person who knows the right collaborator for you!
There will be a nice mix of people in the group: some who are exclusively writers; some who are exclusively artists; and many who do both.
We’re designing the program to work for both “pre-published” and “already published” creators. We’ll be covering a lot of fundamentals that will help beginning creators get started. But we’ll also be able to go deeper on those fundamentals to discuss how more advanced participants can move to the next level.
Yes, if you are specifically interested in learning about kids and YA graphic novel writing. We will talk about what authors need to know about writing for sequential art. We’ll show examples of different graphic novel manuscripts so you can see different ways they can be formatted. You have the option of signing up just for the “Writing” portion of the course (the first four weeks), if you don’t want to continue for the visual storytelling part of it.
We have to be honest, though, that it is definitely harder to break into traditional children’s book publishing as a writer-only focusing on graphic novels. It’s easier if you’re an established author with a successful track record. One route we recommend for writers-only is to focus at first on hybrid books: ie, picture book manuscripts with comics elements incorporated, or illustrated chapter books with short comics sequences.
Another possibility is self-publishing. One of the top-selling illustrated middle grade books on Amazon right now, Legend of the Star Runner, is self-published by an author who found his own illustrator.