Visual Artists Lab: Theory and Practice of Making Comics Professionally with Jon Bagdanove (THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN)

8 week intensive one-on-one masterclass
Taught by Jon Bogdanove

Lab Schedule (8 sessions):
Saturday, Jan 8TH 9 - 11AM PST
Saturday, Jan 15TH 9 - 11AM PST
Saturday, Jan 22ND 9 - 11AM PST
Saturday, Jan 29TH 9 - 11AM PST
Saturday, Feb 5TH 9 - 11AM PST
Saturday, Feb 12TH 9 - 11AM PST
Saturday, Feb 19TH 9 - 11AM PST
Saturday, Feb 26TH 9 - 11AM PST
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Class hosted by: Jon Bogdanove

-Penciler on Superman: The Man of Steel; Co-Creator of Steel

Jon Bagdanove is best known for his long run as penciler and occasional writer on DC's SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL and as one of the chief architects of the record-breaking epic THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN. He also co-created STEEL with Louise Simonson. At Marvel, Jon penciled and later wrote Simonson’s POWER PACK and drew FANTASTIC FOUR VS. THE X-MEN, by Chris Claremont. In a career spanning nearly 40 years, Jon has worked on countless comics, including issues of BATMAN, THE HULK, ALPHA FLIGHT, SOLOMON KANE, and an upcoming science fiction series from StormKing, TERRAFORMED. Recently Jon has drawn storyboards for an upcoming AAA video game for CAPCOM. In 2021, He drew animation keys and cycles for a special sequence in the episode of Cartoon Network’s TEEN TITANS GO!, "Creative Geniuses." Full Bio »




The comic book industry is not slowing down, and it needs great storytellers like you to create the next heroes to thrill fans! Whether an artist, director, writer, or cinematographer, this exclusive lab gives you hands-on experience to build a great portfolio and create a gripping visual story.

Comics are the go-to entertainment IP for their visual focus and similar story structure to features and television. Directors and writers looking to branch out from their traditional mediums will receive a wealth of knowledge, expanding their storytelling abilities. And anyone wanting to know how to break into the comic book world will have exclusive access and information directly from one of the most well-known artists in the field.

Over eight weeks, this lab works with a small group looking to excel professionally in comics, storyboard, animation, and narrative design. Each week dives deep into the behind-the-scenes of comic creation from story and character development through production, providing the rules, techniques, tips, and secrets guaranteed to enhance your narrative skills. Each week ends with an assignment to put what you've learned into practice, with direct feedback from a DC and Marvel artist in the week following.

At the helm of the lab is Jon Bagdanove, best-known as one of the chief architects of the record-breaking epic THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN. He's also worked on issues of BATMAN, THE HULK, FANTASTIC FOUR VS. THE X-MEN, and drew animation keys and cycles for a special sequence an episode of Cartoon Network's TEEN TITANS GO! Your access to Jon starts before the first lab session, as you'll be able to send Jon any of your current visual work, such as your graphic art portfolio or storyboards for a directing project. Jon will also evaluate homework submissions throughout the lab, and you will continue to have access to sessions and Jon after the end of the eight weeks. Sessions will be available to you on-demand, and your newly formed connection to Jon can last a lifetime and be there to answer industry and artist questions.

You will master visual storytelling, whether on page or screen, by acquiring and implementing techniques from Jon that have created the juggernaut characters that have remained popular for decades. And you will do so alongside a small, intensive group of similarly passionate storytellers, giving you more personal instruction and feedback.


What You'll Learn

Pre-Lab Critique

Artists are encouraged to send Jon links to their websites, portfolios, or other samples of their art for individual evaluation, anytime between registration and the start of the first session. During the lab, artists submit scans of each homework assignment.

Week 1: Breaking Down the Story

  • Introduction and Overview
    • Comics combine storytelling strengths of both written media (novels, short stories, poetry) and visual media (movies and TV). Comics make many of the same demands on their readers’ imaginations as novels do, but comics provide drastically fewer words. The main trigger for firing the imaginations of comics readers is artwork. Like film, Comics are primarily a visual storytelling medium.
    • Writing comics is as demanding as writing novels and screenplays—but comics writers must be much more economical and epigrammatic even than screenwriters. Even when writing full scripts for comics, they must rely on the artist for most of the heavy lifting.
    • Comics artists are writers who tell stories in pictures instead of words. They use a nigh infinite vocabulary of ideographic and illustrative visual clues to trigger with maximum efficiency and economy, an audience’s imagination. Reading comics should be an experience as intimate as a novel—and immediate as a movie—without film’s advantages of sound and motion, or a novel’s unlimited page and word count.
  • 3 Methods for drawing your script
    • Full Script
    • Outline
    • The Marvel Method
  • How to break the story visually!
    • Beat Sheets
    • Story Structure
    • Sketch Ideas
    • Margin notes
  • Homework: Create a 22 paragraph Marvel Method plot synopsis for 22 pages of comics and a character list. Follow the strict formula we’ll discuss closely.

Week 2: Character Design

  • Review plot synopsis from the last session
  • Heroes and Villains, Monsters and Folks
    • Calling upon Archetypes while avoiding stereotypes
    • Mixing cultural influences for shorthand connection to your audience
    • Managing ambiguity & Avoiding derivativeness
    • You really can (and should be able to) judge a character by their appearance
    • Civilians, Bystanders, and Supporting Cast vs. Main Characters, Protagonists and Antagonists
    • Every detail of your character concept should be an essential clue for your audience to know exactly what you want them to know about your character
    • Invoking and Evoking:
  • Homework: Draw concept sketches and model sheets for your cast of characters.

Weeks 3 & 4: Thumbnailing - Breaking Down a Page

  • Every Page is a story in microcosm with classic story structures
    • The set-up, climax, resolution/cliff-hanger (not necessarily in that order)
  • Design and composition
    • Key beats/Key Images
    • Simplicity—everything you put on the page must serve the story.
  • “Theater of the Mind!” You are the director, all the actors, and the production team
    • Exposition v. Art
    • Composition, Design and Lighting
    • Body Language, Gesture and Expression
      • Directing
      • Cinematography and Production Design
      • Acting
  • Storyboards
    • The different requirements for games, animation, commercials, TV, and film
    • Explore the similarities and differences between storyboards and comics
  • Homework (both weeks): Thumbnail 22 page sequence of comics.

Week 5: Layouts

  • Review and critique of Individual Thumbnails
  • How to translate your thumbnails and prelims to the page
  • Refining composition and design
  • Homework: Build Layouts from your Thumbnails.

Week 6: Penciling

  • Review and critique of Individual Layouts
  • The differences between penciling for an Inker v. penciling for yourself
  • Drawing From Life, Memory, Experience and Google
    • When, how, and why to use REFERENCE (and when not to)
  • Learn to really Draw! Anyone can trace a photograph
    • Working around your limitations, and/or overcome them.
    • Style—making your art serve the story.
  • Mastering Perspective
  • Creating Backgrounds
  • Homework: Start Penciling! Pencil 2 pages at least.

Week 7: Inking, The Vanishing Art

  • Inking: Its History and Purpose
  • “Tracing” v. Finishing—It’s a spectrum.
  • Backgrounds v. Character work
  • Digital Drawing v. Old School
    • Tools and techniques of the vanishing craft
    • Modern Digital basics
  • Lettering and Coloring
  • Homework: Finish (“ink”) at least two pages.

Week 8: Putting It All Together

  • Review of Inks
  • Q&A
  • “Breaking In” to the comics industry
  • Surviving in the industry of Comics, Storyboards, etc.
  • Open portfolio-review session, in class for individual evaluation of their progress, and individualized instruction on “next steps”.

PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 15 people and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with a master comic and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good.

  • Payment plans are available - please contact Amanda at for more information

About Your Instructor

Jon Bagdanove is best known for his long run as penciler and occasional writer on DC's SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL and as one of the chief architects of the record-breaking epic THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN. He also co-created STEEL with Louise Simonson. At Marvel, Jon penciled and later wrote Simonson’s POWER PACK and drew FANTASTIC FOUR VS. THE X-MEN, by Chris Claremont. In a career spanning nearly 40 years, Jon has worked on countless comics, including issues of BATMAN, THE HULK, ALPHA FLIGHT, SOLOMON KANE, and an upcoming science fiction series from StormKing, TERRAFORMED. Recently Jon has drawn storyboards for an upcoming AAA video game for CAPCOM. In 2021, He drew animation keys and cycles for a special sequence in the episode of Cartoon Network’s TEEN TITANS GO!, "Creative Geniuses."


Saturday January 8 – 9am-11am PST

Saturday January 15 – 9am-11am PST

Saturday January 22 – 9am-11am PST

Saturday January 29 – 9am-11am PST

Saturday February 5 – 9am-11am PST

Saturday February 12 – 9am-11am PST

Saturday February 19 – 9am-11am PST

Saturday February 26 – 9am-11am PST


Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live class?
A: If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class. If you cannot attend a live class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. Plus, your instructor will be available via email throughout the lab.

Q: Will I have access to the lab afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of the lab, you will have on-demand access to the video recording, which you can view for one month after the class is complete.








If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

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