William D. Lewis    717-357-1209   workforward@hotmail.com

Portfolio Index

Training Comic Books

Additional samples and information on request.

The graphic design and final illustration of the book involved a mix of different production technologies and artist skills.

A 3D artist built the entire physical setting of the incident (the hardware store exterior and interior, and all adjacent buildings and streets) in MAYA. All response vehicles were also built as 3D elements in Maya. Then the buildings and vehicles in each scene (each visual pane on each page) were "photographed" at the correct camera angle and the image exported as the Adobe Illustrator background for each visual pane.  

Figure artists were then used to draw in the firefighters and other personel in each picture, and graphic artists assembled the elements into the finished page graphics with text and other graphic elements in Adobe Illustrator.  Special acknowledgements to Bart Collart, art director and lead designer in this effort, for his fine work in creative design and in guiding this complex production.

Final Graphic Production Techniques

Click  to enlarge.



The first step in design of the training comics is the treatment. The treatment is a short written description of the incident to be displayed that indicates the complexity of response to be taught and principle concepts to be emphasized. The second step is the events sequence of the incident. This is developed and carefully vetted by teams of SMEs and includes both the proper events that would occur, the proper tactical command decisions that would be made, and the evolving ICS command structure. The third step is the script with page blocking, which provides the initial layout plan for each of the pages in the book and allows for initial review of the degree of emphasis placed on different depicted events and concepts. The samples to the right are from a second book, depicting the response to a small airplane crash at an airfield called "Hendricks Park", with a fatality and the accidental release of medical supply hazardous materials cargo.

Treatment, Events Sequence, and Script with Page Blocking

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

Production Techniques Used

The Finished Product

Instructional Techniques Used


Current national Incident Command System (ICS) training focuses on the concepts and full components of large scale incident command, and usually presumes that the response audience already has sufficient experience to handle command at small incidents. However, for many volunteer audiences this is not the case, and there is a gap in training for these audiences on how to correctly use ICS in small, routine incidents, including how to build the system up from scratch starting from the initial response through incident termination.  This self-study training comic book demonstrates to the reader how ICS is correctly used in the management of a routine, commonly occuring incident response.

The key to the production is the authoring (both  writing and drawing) of highly detailed layout production guides. These guides define the finished page layouts, the graphic scenes within each pane on the page (including figure positioning, viewer angle, key visuals, etc) and display the blending of info-graphics information with the incident story line.  The detailed layout production guides also allow for full SME review and final editing of all incident information, language and text displayed before final graphic production begins.  In the

development of this book, several iterations of layout production guides were done until

the final drafts passed full SME review.  The guides were produced in Coreldraw and in 

Adobe Illustrator. The development of the 

layout production guides is actually a very 

difficult task in the production of this type

of book because of the combined graphic

and instructional design skills involved in 

authoring the guides.

Highly Detailed and Fully Storyboarded Layout Production Guides

Infographic Step-by-step Explanations

Modeling Building the ICS Structure 


Many volunteer firefighters (and 70 % of the nation's fire service is volunteer) with advanced careers but with less current training do not understand how many of the modern safety and response procedural protocols should be incorporated into the events sequence of  a typical incident response. This can pose significant safety concerns for small local fire department operations. This self-study training comic book explains to the reader how these safety and response protocols are used and the order in which they should occur in an incident response.

Performance Modeling of Full Response

Each step of the response, from initial call to incident termination, is described and visually depicted, including all command decisions and actions.  Only correct actions are depicted, modeling for the under-experienced reader the proper response protocols and operations to be followed in such an incident.

To be effective, adult training self-study materials formatted as comic books need to be carefully targeted to the preferences and needs of the training audience, in order to maximize audience discretionary use and thereby the training impact.  The sample displayed in detail on this page is part of an experimental series that was developed under my direction and authorship  to address the training challenge that a significant portion of the nation's older volunteer firefighting audience do not, of their own accord, use online training, do not receive sufficient local ILT training, and need to be reached through alternative methods, such as fire department dayroom reading material. In addition, the training book sample displayed here was designed and produced to address two specific and important performance problems ....

Page Blocking

Script with


Click on images to enlarge.

In the lower right corner of each facing page, the ICS organization at that point in the incident response is diagrammed. This is to help the reader understand the progression of the command structure as it builds and changes during the incident and to model for the reader the appropriate integration of resources into the command structure as incident response assignments are made. 

Info-graphic explanations are provided as the incident unfolds of tactical reasoning and rationale, safety precautions being followed, and incident command system nomenclature and protocols employed . This instruction is provided immediately concurrent with the depiction of the relevant incident events.

To see and page through the entire finished training comic book, please click on the image below as indicated.  Also, please scroll down to read about the instructional techniques used and the production techniques used in the development of this product. Special acknowlegments to Bart Collart, Art Director and designer, and to Bill Sebers for their fine work on this project.