The Indie Corner: Making Comics!

Published on December 2nd, 2013

MakingComics!logoHello my adoring public, Mr. Dunford is back again with another installment of the Indie Corner here at Comic Impact. Here at the Indie Corner I talk with comic creators who don’t work for Marvel or DC in order give their projects some extra attention. So today I’ll be chatting with Patrick Yurick and Devin Larson of Patrick is a friend of mine who recently got a lot of international attention from the 4 panel comic grid tattooed to his arm, which he draws on daily. Everyone else has sat down to interview him so now it’s my turn.

Matt: Thank you for joining me at the Indie Corner. Could you introduce yourselves to the audience and say who you are and what you do?

Patrick: My name is Patrick Yurick. I am the CEO of I am also the artist and creator of My Arm the Comic and Hipster Picnic.

Devin: My name is Devin Larson and I am the Editor in Chief of

Matt: So guys, tell our readers a little about

Patrick: in the simplest terms is a free online resource for comic book creators. It will be aimed at new creators and people who have never interacted with comic books before. It is not for experienced creators, we’re trying to make it a one-stop location to learn everything you need to know about comics. And on top of all that, it’s free and it is a non-profit. This is going to revolutionize the online education of comic books because almost every other resource for comic learning has to be purchased.

Devin: The main thing is we didn’t want to put this behind a pay wall because that limits access. We want to expand access as much as possible.

Matt: So you’re continuing comics as an educational form. Patrick, you have a past teaching art on the high school level and you previously worked as an instructor at the Little Fish Comic Book studio in San Diego. So how does this reflect from your past teaching experiences and how your process has evolved?

Patrick: I worked with 9th through 12th graders at High Tech High Chula Vista for the last 5 years where it was a project-based learning curriculum. It was a title 1 school and it was a non-profit operating on 80% of what a normal school runs on. It had a pretty diverse student ethnographic base, from low to high income and all different races. What that means from my background is that I have taught in conditions that aren’t ideal. I have instructed in every kind of format that you can possibly imagine and for students who don’t have access to the same kind of materials that kids in upper class students would have access to. This has made me uniquely qualified along with the after school project “The Graphic Novel Project” has also made me pretty qualified to talk about what people need to fundamentally understand comics for the first time as opposed to needing very extensive in-field training. This website is different from Little Fish, it’s different from than other after school programs because it’s not based on serving only a small subset of human beings. When I did “The Graphic Novel Project” I could only serve students who were going to the school. When I was at Little Fish I could only teach students who were in San Diego. is serving everybody in the world.

Matt: The question on everyone’s mind as of late, what’s with the arm? Since it has been making international headlines.


Patrick: Yep, I do have international fame since they did a story on me in Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Korea and South Africa. It’s just a tattoo that went viral. How it relates to making comics is because I feel like people aren’t pushing the medium. People ask me “Are comics going to die because print is going away?” if anything my tattoo proves that comics adapt. Asking if comics are going to die because print is going away is like saying that music is going to die because the recording industry is failing. Music is fundamental and comics are a way of telling stories that have existed since the time of cave paintings.

Devin: By having that kind of information accessible to as wide an audience as possible then who knows what kind of innovations are going to come from the people who didn’t have the kind of access before. They could come up with anything because there are so many unknown kinds of variations to comic storytelling.

Patrick: Scott McCloud talked about reinventing the industry in order for the medium to expand. I had a chance to talk about this with him and I do believe that inspired by him too that education of the DIY open source nature is needed because the industry has existed since the industrial revolution behind a curtain of exclusivity.


Matt: Patrick, you’ve always had a teaching style that emphasized innovation over traditional means. So how would you instruct a traditional comic artist to break away from the norm?

Patrick: I’ve been studying other models of education such as Khan Academy and Wikipedia, which are free and open source educational platforms. Khan Academy specifically for math. Specifically when looking at math vs. art it’s interesting because when you study math you have to study progressions built upon simple logics of philosophy. Philosophy being the search for truth while math is made from simple truths that go upward until you get to deep philosophical understandings. I believe that art is flipped, so if we want to become original artists we have to study deep philosophy before we can construct. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t able to construct original things, I think there’s something to be said about constructing unoriginal mediums like learning how to draw the turtle in those old drawing advertisements.

Matt: I thought it was a parrot?

Devin: Well it was an art school thing.


Patrick: But there’s value to that, because technical prowess is very important in art. But that’s not how great artists are formed, great artists are formed because they have great understanding of philosophy and are able to construct around them.

Devin: Ultimately what we are trying to do is interpret the visual world and then impose a rule set on the page and to communicate that to people.

Patrick: This is definitely going to be the most difficult educational undertaking done in a long time because if we’re trying to cover comic books as a narrow focus then we do have to cover all of art. It’s not like you have a lack of understanding of fine art and the history of art within comic books. Comic books are the result of hundreds of years of artistic evolution. To deny that they exist is doing a disservice to the students.

Devin: From an art standpoint and a storytelling medium, anyone can draw a good looking drawing but if you want to have a good comic it has to be able to tell a story in a clear visual manner. It’s a lot of information to instill in someone.

Matt: The future of where will you be taking things from here?

Patrick: In January we’re launching the website, which is basically an update to the currently existing blog. The biggest change is the categorization of the content. We have three separate sections on the site; one for making comics and everything that comes into the construction of a comic. The second section is the economics and understanding of how to market and sell work from all different angles such as Kickstarter projects and Diamond Distribution for printing methods of the larger companies. The third section is theory, how do gender studies, art history and anything else affect the creation of a comic story. In those sections think of a giant Venn diagram and how they overlap, we’re going to map out all of comic books on this website. With each category we’re trying to cover all of the basics. The first month’s theme will be ideation, we’ll talk about where do ideas come from. Within that we’ll be doing tutorials, podcasts with creators, interviews with creators, but it will be taking a constructivist approach we won’t be reviewing the comic they’re working on more on how they approach their work.

Devin: We’re starting at the very base level and building up gradually.

Patrick: It’s going to take years but eventually we do want to have a mass of volunteers come in like Wikipedia did. So the site can be run by volunteers and contributed by volunteers. There is so much material coming out that no one could read everything but they can find what they are looking for when trying to construct their comic.

Matt: Is the website up and running right now for any aspiring comic creators?

Patrick: Nope. It will launch on January 1st 2014.

Devin: It exists but it’s the old version.


Patrick: We inherited the old blog from Jason Brubaker that still exists. Jason constructed it as a blog to go alongside his webcomic because he was really concerned about teaching comics but he found that he didn’t have enough time to do it adequately so he contacted me to take over the site.

Devin: People still should check that stuff out. We will be categorizing and repurposing that content and it’s still going to exist on the new site because it’s all valuable information.

Patrick: Mainly it was really hard to navigate the old site. The infrastructure wasn’t built for teaching a new person how to create comics, it was built for the fans of Jason Brubaker to consume his stuff and he has a book coming out called “Unnatural Talent” about creating comics that will tie into the website as well. On top of that we can talk about MOOCs, our Massive online open course. Our MOOCs will open in March and will be free for people to take worldwide. This will be a three-week course on drawing one on one for comics, that is a big innovation because it will be a real course where people can do assignments, talk to classmates and work together from anywhere in the world using a platform called Google Course-Builder.

Matt: And is there anything else that you would like to tell the readers at Comic Impact?

Patrick: We’ll be having a Google Hangout on air December 4th, we’re going to be doing some previews of what the website will look like. You’ll get a sneak peak and get to meet the heads of all the departments. And if anyone seeking to make comics needs help I am on Google Helpouts where you can sign up and do a lesson with me from anywhere in the world.

Matt: Be sure to checkout January 1st 2014 for all of your comic making needs. And check out Patrick Yurick’s projects My Arm the Comic and Hipster Picnic.

– Uncle Dunfy