May. 16, 2014  

Comic book artist educates journalists on illustration and news

Earlier this month, SPJ Florida brought the Gainesville, Florida-based comic artist Leela Corman to Miami to give a talk about her comics and book. Her presentation “Illustrating the News: a hands-on art workshop for journalists with illustrator and comic artist Leela Corman” was a challenge to journalists to try to graphically tell true events.


The venue of Books and Books in Coral Gables hosted a month-long exhibit of her original and sequential artwork that included a comic on an American bellydancer living in Cairo as well as a comic on Corman’s experiences teaching belly dancing to religious women in Brooklyn and a somber comic on mourning the death of her first daughter. Corman explained how she went from fine artist to the comic/sequential realm. She explained the kinds of research she engages in to produce her work and the resistance in the art world to the comic form.

Much of her inspiration in visual storytelling is drawn from film and episodic writing on television. Corman is interested in telling human stories. She agonizes over the visual composition of her work. She makes big choices about whether to include dialogue and narration – or let the story unfold purely pictorially. Often, she feels stories are more powerful when crucial scenes aren’t shown.


Her book Unterzakhn, meaning underclothes in Yiddish, is a heartbreaking graphic novel of immigrant life on New York’s Lower East Side at the turn of the twentieth century, as seen through the eyes of twin sisters whose lives take radically and tragically different paths.

While in Miami Corman also spoke to an enthusiastic group of students at the Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH) in Miami about illustration and comic making. Additionally, Corman discussed her work at the Sunday Salon at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, Florida. The Betsy Hotel South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida hosted Corman as a writer in residence in their Writers Room philanthropic project.

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