San Diego Comic-Con Recap


ImageThink graphic recording presented a Draw Your Big Idea graphic recording workshop at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. Co-founder Heather Willems walked attendees through exercises to help them achieve their goals with drawing. The turnout was exceptional, the passion of the group was infectious.

01-SDCC-DYBI-072316-ImageThinkSenior Graphic Recorder James Lake created real-time visualizations of the discussion as it unfolded. We started our graphic recording workshop with a brief history of ImageThink, including Heather’s story of starting out as a waitress & eavesdropping on her customer’s conversations. She found out she was a great listener & turned her napkin notes into murals, someone saw them & told her about the industry of graphic recording. Then we talked about super powers & comics. Using examples from Watchmen, Spiderman & Kill Bill, we discussed what we may learn from these heroes:

  1. Recognize your strengths
  2. Identify passions
  3. Define goals

The audience was drawing along with us, we were very happy with their level of engagement & participation in the graphic recording workshop.

imagethink graphic recording of uma thurman's character journey in kill bill. This illustration is of a road in a landscape going towards the sun (her goal). There's illustrations of a calendar, the bride from kill bill jumping with her samurai sword, the deadly viper squad with "x's" over their faces. Along the road are milestone markers showing the steps needed to achieve her goal: wiggle your big toe, find bill, train, survive. In the road are her strengths needed & tools: hitori hanzo sword, pussy wagon, bilingual, martial arts. There's a drawing of pai mei & her punching the wall.

The next exercise in the graphic recording workshop was to create a journey map, using audience participation, we drew up Uma Thurman’s character mission in Kill Bill. First we identified her goal, when identifying a goal it should be actionable and measurable. This also ensures you can go back to it if you get distracted along the way. We wrote up some of our audience’s goals too.  Then we drew a path, along the path we listed steps needed to achieve her goal. These milestones are her action items. On the path we listed her strengths; the skills that will take her to her goal. This exercise may be applied to any goal you may have, big or small.

In addition to our graphic recording workshop, we graphic recorded the biggest event at the whole convention: Star Trek 50 for CBS! The hall was packed with over 6,500 people, many of whom slept overnight to make sure they got into the talk on Saturday! ImageThink was a part of history as William Shatner, Scott Bakula and more legends discussed the past, present & future of this franchise. We tried to put as many icons from this beloved show as we could, and had fun using the old ship going along a path to the new ship as visual metaphor. The reaction on social media has been HUGE! The combination of our fan bases produced engaging conversations about ImageThink’s presence at San Diego Comic Con.


We also created sketchnotes of many of the panel discussions throughout the weekend including Sherlock, Invader Zim, & Daniel Clowes. These are basically smaller scale graphic recordings, but most of the same elements apply. These are useful when space is tight in an event, we have done combinations of sketchnotes & full size graphic recordings at many events in the past with great success. Sherlock featured Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick as moderator for a panel of actors & writers on the show. Benedict Cumberbach was a surprise to us! We didn’t know he was going to be there, many of our staff are big Sherlock fans so this was a treat. As with many panels, there’s a thin line they must walk because they want to inform us but don’t want to give away too much & spoil the surprise when it airs. The challenge creating this sketchnote was that this room was plunged into darkness when it started. James was drawing in the dark trying to hold his cell phone up to the page to get some light on the drawing. We loved when they talked about Sherlock’s character evolution. Even though he’s a genius, he still learns, that’s actually what makes him so smart. If he never learned anything new, it would be a waste.


On a personal note, the Invader Zim talk was the one James was most excited about. The content was silly, as to be expected, but it provided a very colorful arrangement of visuals! They tried to keep the discussion geared towards the comic & not the Nickelodeon cartoon (which ran from 2001-2004). The comic actually came about because fans of the show were so passionate about bringing it back in some form or another. A highlight was when creator Jhonen Vasquez was gracious enough to take a look at our sketchnotes & even take a photo with James & the work.


Daniel Clowes is an immensely talented creator & artist. We were very inspired by his discussion, especially the role of the artist. He was essentially talking about the artist being the facilitator of the work, which truly resonated with us as graphic facilitators. He was also gracious enough to look at our sketchnotes & take a photo. We’re so thankful to be able to listen to these great creators.   Thank you to Eddie Ibrahim, Laura Jones & the SDCC staffCBSLiam O’Brien, & Esther Westwood for making this graphic recording workshop a huge success!

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