VISUAL STORYTELLING SUCCESS SYSTEM™: How to Write Comic Books and Graphic Novels


Success leaves clues, and comics is no exception. There are several things needed to become successful as a visual storyteller if you want to break into the publishing world—among them is talent, perseverance, and a good understanding of the craft. The comics art form looks deceptively simple, but it requires a solid understanding of the tools and techniques to conquer the medium and keep you moving in the right direction. This course provides you with a step-by-step system that will get you started as a visual storyteller in order to either experiment with and explore the comics medium to see if it’s a good fit for your creative expression, or to begin the journey of positioning yourself as a “pro-in-waiting” by helping you orient yourself to the mindset of a comics practitioner.

Who Should Participate

This short course is ideal if you are:

  • An aspiring comics creator who is starting out and doesn’t know how to write a comic book or graphic novel script
  • An emerging or developing comics creator who wants to expand his or her visual storytelling repertoire to in order to transition from hobbyist to professional
  • A comics artist who wants to learn how to write a comic book and graphic novel
  • An author, illustrator, storyboarder, animator or TV or film scriptwriter who wants to cross into the comics medium and learn how to write comic books and graphic novels
  • A mainstream publishing editor who has no background in the comics medium, but needs to learn quickly in order to assess the potential of solicited and unsolicited graphic novel scripts, as well as to learn the craft in order to understand the creative process.

What You Will Learn

Participants will access 7 modules over 8 weeks. Each session will be 90 minutes long, and will predominantly be theory, as well as some project analysis. At the end of every session, participants will be provided with optional course work to complete where they will experiment with some of the tools and techniques of visual storytelling. These exercises can be submitted for feedback, as they set the groundwork for an optional course project.



“Comics” (AKA “visual storytelling”, “visual narrative” and “graphic narrative”) is often mistaken for a literary genre, but it is anything but… Comics is, in fact, a medium in its own right with specific jargon and visual storytelling conventions, tools and techniques. This session introduces you to the scope and versatility, as well as the accessibility of its unique storytelling approach that is breaking through from pop culture into the mainstream. This session will also help you orient your imagination from the spoken and written word to the visual, and provide you with practical ways to capture visual ideas that form the foundation for your future stories. In addition, it will also examine the creative process, various writing approaches, and the importance of understanding how the six comics categories act as delivery systems for multiple story genres and styles.



How do you arrange panels in the right ways to underpin your dialogue and action? What kind of scripting style do you use to achieve a specific effect? This session explores various visual narrative techniques, as well as page / panel layouts and composition, panel points of view, and demonstrates when and how to use them appropriately in your stories.



No matter what their genre, all great comics stories begin with fantastic characters whether they are heroes, villains or other archetypes. This module shows you how to create a character profile from the ground up by identifying and patching together the physiological, psychological and energetic components that make up your lead and supporting players. It also shows you how to become a casting director and assemble your ensemble, as well as how to generate conflict in order to underpin your lead characters’ emotional journeys through the story.



Is your story intended to be a one-page micro-comic or is it going to be a saga? Is it going to be a self-contained three-part mini series or is it going to be a long form graphic novel? This session examines your story arc in context of your predetermined comics delivery system. You will learn the fundamentals of plotting, establishing narrative voice, the three Act story structure and how it pertains to planning sequences and scenes, and also begin to write an outline, a page / panel breakdown and a comics script.

WEEKS 5 & 6


“Mise-en-scène” is an often-used concept in film and theatre production, meaning “telling the story in visually artful ways”, but is just as apt in its application to comics storytelling which is predicated in the “show and don’t tell” philosophy. This session explores the use of visual metaphor and the mindful placement and arrangement of all components in panels in order to create mood, comment on characters’ inner lives and emotional journeys, and support central themes. Understanding and applying these ideas into your comics stories will ultimately provide your readers with the value added experience of discovering multi layers of meaning in the artwork and an all together richer reading experience.



This session will examine the creative process behind a single published comic book. It will deconstruct the page layouts, and provide an analysis on the application of “show and don’t tell” principles in all of their subtleties. It will also demonstrate the writer’s and artist’s choice of particular panel points of view, challenges, planting information for future pay offs, purposeful scriptwriting, emotional resonance, story structure and characterisation. Participants will also see how creating a publishing proposal before or alongside a work in progress will help the writer and artist stay focused and on track.



Where do you go from here? How do you find a collaborator? Which publisher is a good fit for your project? Or should you self-publish? These questions and more are answered in the final session, which will examine the differences between the pop culture publishing scene and mainstream book publishing, as well as their respective distribution systems. It will also examine trends on the Australian landscape, show you where the opportunities lie and provide you with the tools to formulate a preliminary marketing plan for your book.

PLEASE NOTE: If you can’t make it on the actual day to any of the live sessions, you can still register for the course and get access to each module within 24 hours of the presentation. This way you can work through the course wherever you like, whenever you like.


While working on a couple of graphic novels (of different lengths and complexities) I completed the Comics Mastermind Visual Storytelling Success System course via webinar. I entered into the course not knowing what to expect, hoping I would get enough information to improve what I had already created. What I came out with enabled me to reassess my story in all aspects of storytelling in both verbal and visual elements. Seeing my story with fresh eyes and knowledge encouraged me to make edits I probably would have not realised or possibly been too scared to make (ie. deleting two full pages of unnecessary content). Julie Ditrich is an excellent communicator. Her knowledge of the comics industry comes from many years of working in the industry. I highly recommend Comics Mastermind to anyone starting out in the comics industry, or even to those needing to go that bit extra.
Steve Warburton – Visual Artist

The Comics Mastermind course Visual Storytelling Success System: How to Write Comic Books and Graphic Novels is a practical and in-depth examination of the art and craft of creating for the graphic story world. Using her extensive knowledge and insights on both the written and visual aspects, Julie Ditrich provides tools, techniques and insider know-how. With useful hands-on coursework (and optional feedback), by the end of the course I am now better equipped and confident to take my writing and illustrating ideas in a new direction.  An extremely professional course in both content and delivery—a revelation and highly recommended!
Yvonne Low – Children’s writer and illustrator

About the Presenter

Julie Ditrich is the founder and CEO of Comics Mastermind™, as well as a professional writer, editor and comics creator, book project management and publishing consultant. Her niches include visual storytelling and self-development. Julie has a BA in Professional Writing (University of Canberra), and has worked in mainstream publishing as a bookseller, publicist, marketing manager and author. She was also employed as publications manager at the Australian Society of Authors (ASA). Julie has worked extensively as a comic book writer predominantly in the fantasy genre with sales of over 270,000 comics all over the world. She has worked as a manuscript assessor and editor on several short stories and graphic novels for Australian writers and publishers, and presented comics and graphic novels workshops at various writers’ centres, festivals, libraries and pop culture events around Australia, as well as the City of Sydney and JMC Academy. She has also worked as a comics mentor for the ASA and independently. Julie was the co-founder of the ASA Comics / Graphic Novels Portfolio and was the co-portfolio holder between 2007 and 2012. She is currently working on several short prose and comics stories for independent publishers, which will be published in 2018.

Event Information

Dates: Tuesday 10 April, Tuesday 17 April, Tuesday 24 April, Tuesday 1 May, Tuesday 8 May, Tuesday 15 May, Tuesday 22 and Tuesday 29 May 2018
Time: 6:30pm to 8:00pm (AEST – Sydney / Melbourne time)
Duration: 1.5 hours x 8 weeks (12 hours)
Format: Online
Audience: Age: 15+
Comics Category: Comic books and graphic novels
Mastery: Creative
Level: Beginners and emerging comics creators
Materials & Equipment: Computer with a good internet connection plus pen, notebook
Investment: Please find following our fee structure, which includes a flexible payment plan available for people who want to pay off their investment in three easy instalments within their own time frame. PLEASE NOTE that the course must be paid in full by Friday 6 April 2018 prior to the commencement of Week 1.



The Comics Voice Subscribers and ACAF (Canberra, 2018) sign ups


3 x $127

Partner Organisations
(Australian Cartoonists Association [ACA], Australian Society of Authors [ASA], Australian Writers’ Network [AWN], Book Expo Australia [BEA], Ownaindi [OAI], Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators [SCBWI], Sydney Comics Guild [SCG])


3 x $137



3 x $147

* The payment plan incurs a slightly higher fee than the one-off payment.

Further Information: Email or phone (02) 9606 4728 or 0412 445 511.


Please nominate the appropriate fee category on the PayPal pull down menu on either of the two buttons below to register for the course. If you are an ezine subscriber you will find your COUPON CODE in the February and March 2018 issues of THE COMICS VOICE.

If you have received a special comics convention discount then just use the COUPON CODE from the flyer and make sure you book by deadline.

If you are a member of a partner organisation, please fill in your MEMBERSHIP NUMBER if you were issued with one. All partner organisation members will be verified prior to the event.

By registering for the event, you will be agreeing to the Comics Mastermind™  Terms and Conditions.

Registration is limited to 100 people!

OPTION 1: One Payment

Visual Storytelling Success System–ONLINE Apr-May 2018
Partner Organisation
Coupon Code / Membership No.
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OPTION 2: Payment Plan

Return to this PayPal button every time you want to pay an instalment.

Visual Storytelling Success System–ONLINE Apr-May 2018 Pay Plan
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Coupon Code / Membership No.
Mobile Phone No.

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