Advertisement

UCF comics class spurs deeper discussion

The new class where students read comics and draw their own has become a favorite for some at the University of Central Florida.

Sometimes it's too complicated to explain only in words.

One student, who has dealt with depression since high school, drew a comic strip explaining what was happening inside her brain. Another who lost a friend unexpectedly wrote a eulogy in comic form.

Advertisement

A new class where students read comics and draw their own has become a favorite for some students at the University of Central Florida.

Instructor Nathan Holic, 36, told students one day to illustrate President Donald Trump's "tweets."

Advertisement

One person took liberties with Trump's tweet criticizing "Twilight" actress Kristen Stewart's relationship with her former co-star, Robert Pattinson.

"Make Twilight Great Again!" somebody said behind the president, who wore a "Team Edward" tie in reference to Pattinson's character in the movie.

UCF students were assigned to create comics from President Donald Trump's tweets. One person parodied Trump's criticism over the relationship between "Twilight" co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.
UCF students were assigned to create comics from President Donald Trump's tweets. One person parodied Trump's criticism over the relationship between "Twilight" co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. (Nathan Holic)

Another assignment was to draw the past year of your life in nine pictures.

Advertisement

So student Kelsey Chaloux depicted her adventures taking time off from school to become an au pair in Spain and the uncertainty she felt. "What am I doing?" she asked herself in the comic strip.

It doesn't matter if the students are not masterful drawers. Stick figures often will do since the course isn't geared for aspiring professional cartoonists.

Instead, some are advertising and public relations majors who appreciate learning how to convey an idea or tell a story with mostly pictures.

Holic points out we live in a world where comics appear on IKEA furniture installation instructions and airplane safety manuals.

Bethany Martinez, a future high school English teacher, sees the class as inspiration for including graphic novels and comics into her classroom someday.

"It's going to happen," said Martinez, 21, of St. Cloud, who volunteers every year at Comic Con in California. "Even if it's a comic book adaptation of King Lear."

Bethany Martinez, a UCF student from St. Cloud, drew a comic with watercolors to describe her emotions with President Barack Obama left the White House.
Bethany Martinez, a UCF student from St. Cloud, drew a comic with watercolors to describe her emotions with President Barack Obama left the White House. (Provided by Nathan Holic)

Ross Ellison, a UCF student from Chicago, grew up reading his dad's superhero comic books. It was the fantastic situations, all those challenges to overcome, and the villains that got him hooked so he signed up for the class.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Chaloux, 21, of Boca Raton.

Advertisement

Comics? She never gave it much thought before, she said.

"I thought it was a bunch of dudes in tights running around like, 'Pow! Pow! Pow!'" she said.

But she signed up for the class anyway because of Holic's reputation as a good teacher.

Now, her homework assignments are drawing comics in her sketchbook, which make her roommates studying chemistry quite jealous.

She plans to keep reading comics after the semester ended.

"I see myself geeking out on comics," said the junior studying advertising and public relations along with writing and rhetoric.

Over the semester, the students discuss everything from how colors depict emotions, how female superheros are drawn and whom the target audience might be.

Leading the class is Holic, who teaches in the writing and rhetoric department.

Without any formal training as a cartoonist but a master's degree in creative writing from UCF, Holic developed the new class from the ground up.

In his syllabus, where most professors mundanely recite their class policies, Holic used comics to show where his office was or what his expectations were.

Here is part of UCF instructor Nathan Holic's syllabus. Instead of explaining his policies, like this one about office hours, he illustrates them with comics.
Here is part of UCF instructor Nathan Holic's syllabus. Instead of explaining his policies, like this one about office hours, he illustrates them with comics. (Provided by Nathan Holic)

His office hours, for instance, evolved into a comic strip featuring a robot.

He is proud of his students' work, posting their cartoons on a Tumblr blog.

"I'm old enough to remember a time when I hid in the shadows when I read comics as a young teen," Holic said. "Nobody was reading them in my high school. You couldn't get them in the library."

Advertisement
Advertisement