Without sounding too dramatic, Sophie changed my life a little bit. I loved telling stories but Sophie was the one who convinced me I was capable of telling good stories. Through her teaching, patience and excellent editing skills she was able to reign me in and help me get past my instinctive wordiness. She was also decisive in a way that I feel like many teachers, or cartoonists for that matter, are not and helped me improve in my own decision making when it came to the way that I would make comics.”
– Robyn Smith, Co-Creator of Wash Day Diaries (Winner, 2023 LA Times Book Award for Best Graphic Novel)
I currently teach in the MFA in Comics program at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. I also sometimes offer private mentorships. I enjoy helping students apply and develop different techniques for making comics in order to discover what works for them.
I have taught at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, The Animation Workshop in Denmark, and the New Hampshire Institute of Art. I’ve given workshops and spoken at The New School, The Canadian Centre for Architecture, UMass Amherst and more.
Words From Former Comics Students and Mentees
“I felt pretty new to comics when I had Sophie as a teacher — I had drawing chops and ideas, but wasn’t sure how to structure long-form narratives. Through our time in small groups and meeting one on one, I learned that Sophie has a knack for quickly seeing where a story’s weak points are, and providing advice on tightening drafts. Her insight was invaluable during my work on my long-form nonfiction comic, Lines of Light, which would later become the first third of my debut graphic novel, Hidden Systems. But more than just helping me develop these stories, she helped me learn an individual process for making comics that I continue to use today.”
– Dan Nott, Author, Hidden Systems (Longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award), Faculty at the Center for Cartoon Studies
“I met Sophie while making the jump between my first career in digital publishing production to my dream career, cartooning. As my professor at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, Sophie tuned me into coherent storytelling. I’d gleaned plenty about writing as an undergrad studying English, but as Sophie’s grad student, my creative process finally moved beyond wordsmithing and toward narrative structure, pacing, and character-driven cause/effect.”
– Mary Shyne, Senior Artist at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates (Snoopy)
Sophie is an incredible cartoonist and teacher. When I first began working with her, I was a graduate student new to nonfiction comics. She helped me refine my comics at every stage; she knew where and how to focus a piece at its script stage, and how to push its concepts visually so that the final art fully took advantage of the comics medium. As an editor, Sophie is detail-oriented, insightful, and thorough, and through her support she inspired me to challenge myself. Above all she taught me to have patience with the process, and the importance of spending the time necessary to get the story right.”
– Leise H.
Sophie is an astute mentor, and was able to thoughtfully and creatively address key elements of my comics process. Sophie adapts quickly to student work, and was able to bounce between various projects that I was working on including memoir and fantasy. She is enthusiastic and has a great sense of humor that helped diffuse my insecurities and frustrations while keeping me on track with my goals.”
– Max Barnewitz
Sophie has an excellent analytical eye and a knack for editing, both things I found incredibly helpful when working on my own projects. She was also very accommodating of my schedule and my anxieties surrounding the creative process. We met regularly, setting realistic goals and expectations for what to accomplish and in what timeframe. My project involved a lot of writing, and I frequently sent Sophie scripts and thumbnails for feedback. She was an enormous help in nailing down plot details, character writing, and revising drafts.”
– Cuyler Keating
Sophie was great, I truly loved working with her. I felt very supported and encouraged to push my work further, and she was always willing to really dig in and engage with my comics. Her assignments often had me going out of my comfort zone with my process which was fun and exciting and improved my cartooning. I also just think Sophie’s one of the best cartoonists working today, and getting her perspective on comics and seeing her discuss her process was invaluable.”
– Steve Thueson, Creator of the Timothy Dinoman Middle Grade Graphic Novel Series
Sophie Yanow was my assigned editor for my mini-thesis at The Center For Cartoon Studies. My ambitions exceeded my talent at the time, and I had a very prose oriented understanding of comics. Sophie not only helped me hone the story of my comic, her guidance was invaluable in teaching me how to find the comic in my comic.”
– J. D. Lunt
I worked with Sophie in graduate school at The Center for Cartoon Studies during my thesis year. At weekly group critiques with Sophie I received feedback on my in-progress middle grade graphic novel, Scullion. Sophie’s insights on my thumbnails regarding the overall story and character arcs were hugely beneficial to me while I wrote the first draft. Her incisive first-reads, where she would ask me questions about what was happening in a scene or where I planned to take things, helped reveal gaps in my story that needed further work. Her feedback always kept me in the driver’s seat without telling me how to make my story, which is the hallmark of a fantastic editor. She’s sharp, curious, and easy-going; I’d happily work with her again.”
– Jarad Greene, Author-Illustrator of the graphic novels Scullion: A Dishwasher’s Guide to Mistaken Identity, A-Okay, and A for Effort