6 Week online Course | Instructor: Fred Van Lente

Story Arcs and the Art of Serialized Storytelling


Learn how to create epic stories that captivate readers and have them coming back again and again!

Now that you’ve mastered the art of writing a one-shot, it’s time to up your game and start thinking big – really big, like world building big.

Hooking a reader for one story is hard enough — but hooking the reader throughout an entire epic made up of many parts is one of the most challenging aspects of a comic writer’s job. But whether you aspire to create web based, direct market, or mainstream comics, it’s a skill you’ll need to master.

The goal for every writer is in creating the hook for a first issue/chapter that will draw the reader in, and then building action, revealing character, and landing killer cliffhangers that will have your fans clamoring for more.

This course from New York Times bestselling comics scribe Fred Van Lente (Astonishing Spider-Man, Marvel Zombies, Deadpool vs the Punisher, GI Joe, Archer & Armstrong, and many more) will have you developing a compelling initial series arc, with an emphasis on structuring story beats, crafting characters and creating individual scenes that will provide you with the best beginning, middle and end acts your initial arc can have — as well as providing you with a story bible that can carry your story beyond comics and into other media.

  • Deadpool vs PunisherYou will learn from professional comic book writer Fred Van Lente (Amazing Spider-Man, Taskmaster, MODOK’s 11, Deadpool vs the Punisher, Archer & Armstrong, G.I. Joe, Everything’s Archie, Conan the Avenger, Adventure Time, et al).
  • You’ll get Fred’s lessons and lectures and discussions!
  • You’ll learn to identify character arcs and pace their emotional arcs to best effect throughout a serialized story.
  • You’ll understand how reveals and cliff hangers can be used to keep your readers for coming back for more at the end of each issue/episode.
  • You’ll see how to lay out a “beat sheet” to bring an artist, editor or producer (and any other stakeholder) through the progression of your arc — not to mention tips for adhering to that beatsheet, and when to throw it out altogether!
  • You also get exclusive access to a dedicated class member-only online forum.
  • You’ll have access to recordings of any class in the series for the duration of the class and a few weeks after its conclusion—so you never have to miss a class!
  • Class size is limited to keep it awesome!
Fred Van Lente bio

Fred Van Lente is a six-time New York Times bestselling comics writer, novelist and playwright whose work spans mystery/thrillers to historical fiction to superheroes to comedy.

Van Lente burst onto the scene with his first collaboration with cartoonist Ryan Dunlavey, Action Philosophers, which became a YALSA Best Book for Teens and the NYT called “intensely goofy but intellectually rigorous”.

From there he went on to a long career at Marvel, where he worked on titles like The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America and Marvel Zombies. He’s also written for DC, Archie Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Comics, and Valiant, where his run on Archer & Armstrong was nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Continuing Series.

Van Lente has continued writing non-fiction graphic novels, often with his artistic collaborator Ryan Dunlavey, including the bestselling Comic Book History of Comics and the middle grade series Action Presidents. Two entries in the series were nominated for the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards. In 2021, the third volume won the Theodore Roosevelt Association’s Theodore Roosevelt Children’s Book Prize.

After years of short story writing (including “Neversleeps,” which shortlisted for Best American Science Fiction), Van Lente graduated to prose novels with the acclaimed mysteries Ten Dead Comedians and The Con Artist.

His Platinum Studios graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens was adapted into a film in 2011 starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, directed by Jon Favreau. The following year, Helen Cho, a character created with co-writer Greg Pak in their acclaimed Incredible Hercules series, made her MCU debut in the blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. His MODOK’s 11 and Scorpion became Hulu’s Marvel’s MODOK, which named the elementary school in the show after him (in S1 E2).

King Kirby, his play with Crystal Skillman about the life of the legendary comics artist Jack Kirby, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick on its NYC debut in 2014. It debuted as a much-acclaimed free audio drama podcast in 2020 featuring the original cast on the Broadway Podcasting Network.

Starting as a 2020 pandemic lockdown hobby, Van Lente has a regular comics history column on the website 13th Dimension, where he tackles such burning topics of the day as Stan Lee’s legacy and which is better, Justice League or Fantastic Four?

Of course, none of this should be confused with Fred Van Lente Day, the annual celebration of his work on the Comic Book Resources web site that has been happening since 2005…the year Action Philosophers first came out.

Fred lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the playwright and his frequent co-collaborator Crystal Skillman, and some mostly ungrateful cats. He loves to hear from readers at fred.vanlente@gmail.com.

Hercules v SpidermanThere is no other course like this one on the internet (or in person) that we’ve been able to find. This is all about putting you in the place of the comics creator!

Do I need to already be a comics writer to take this course?

Not at all! In fact, taking this course will help build your understanding of pacing and story development—something that applies to more kinds of writing than just comics. And best of all, there is no prerequisite for this class, taught be a master storyteller!

Wanting to work in comics is great, but what if I just want to tell my own stories?

Our courses are geared for this exact purpose. No matter where you are on the spectrum, beginner as well as experienced writer, learning from someone who has achieved these same goals and can personally guide you is invaluable!

What do we do in this course?

You’ll work with the instructor (Fred Van Lente) to pitch and develop your arc or storyline from 10,000 feet, and then together with the rest of the class, we’ll break that story down into the best possible serialized segments, using such tools as a map to chart your character’s growth throughout episodes/issues. By the end of the course you will have a “beatsheet” for the entire arc that will be ready for scripting — or submitting to other companies.

Do I need to know a whole lot about comics?

Having at least an interest in comics and a basic knowledge as a reader is helpful, but not mandatory. This is about the craft and the form, so we’ll be going over all of the things you’d need to know.

What if I miss a class?

All of our classes are recorded and available to view via streaming link for the duration of the course. And on top of that, you’ll have exclusive access to the Comics Experience forum set up just for the class. You’ll be able to interact with the rest of your class all week long at any time!

If I don’t live in the United States, can I still take the course?

You bet. We’ve had students jump in from Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America and Africa. Not Antarctica yet, but give us time! Some of these students have not been able to attend live, but they’ve viewed the recordings and interacted with their classmates online!

Do we get any practical industry advice?

You’ll get a LOT of practical industry advice. Networking is one of our main topics in all of our introductory courses. It’s, simply put, essential for anyone who wants a career in comics. We discuss relationship building and ways to get your foot in the door and where to go to meet the right people and so on.

How do I sign up?

Add the course to your shopping cart and check out. We will send you a confirmation email typically within 48 hours. If you’ve got any questions or haven’t heard from us withing 48 hours, you can contact us at info@ComicsExperience.com to follow up. Our email confirmation contains information and instructions, giving you everything you need to get started with the course.

If you want to make comics for fun or become a pro, your comics career starts here. Go ahead and reserve your spot today! Space is limited.

TemplarsPrerequisite: You must have completed the Introduction to Writing Comics course to enroll in this class.

  • Microsoft Word or some other writing software.

To participate in our live online sessions you will need:

What if I need to cancel my enrollment?

Unfortunately, Comics Experience cannot provide a full refund for course enrollment once the course is purchased.

  • From the time of purchase until twenty-one (21) days before the class start date, 50% of the course fee can be refunded.
  • Between twenty (20) and seven (7) days prior to the class start date, 25% of the course fee can be refunded.
  • Six (6) days or fewer before the course start date, no refund will be issued.
  • We appreciate your understanding and compliance to help us keep costs down and to continue offering high quality courses.