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Hart, Corman, Porcellino launch new comics school [UPDATED]

Something tells me that sunny Gainesville, Florida, is about to see an influx of aspiring comics creators: Cartoonists Tom Hart (Hutch Owen), Leela Corman (Subway Series), and John Porcellino (King-Cat) have announced the opening of The Sequential Artists Workshop [UPDATED: link added], a new non-profit educational institution “dedicated to the prosperity and promotion of comic art and artists.” The school will offer a two-year program with its inaugural class to begin in 2012, while a “Spring Break Intensive” will be offered from March 6-12, 2011. The SAW will also feature a residency program for practicing cartoonists, online classes, gallery and performance spaces, a house anthology called The Seen in which cartoonists will do “cover versions” of pages from other artists’ creator-owned works, and the proverbial “much more.”

If you’re thinking the SAW sounds a bit like James Sturm’s Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, you’re not alone. According to the new school’s FAQ:

Isn’t this just like CCS?

Yes, a little, and maybe no. James Sturm, who founded Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) has done a great thing in White River Junction, VT and we are in constant awe of his gumption and smarts. James has been friendly with us and he has helped us enormously by offering advice in the forming of this school. We too offer a two-year program in comic art, and will require students to publish their own work at the end of the program. Our school is new and we don’t know how it will evolve. Right now, our goals may be similar, but the places and personalities are different enough that soon the differences between the schools will become evident.

The more the merrier if you ask me.

In addition to the announced faculty of Corman, Porcellino, and founder/executive director Hart — himself a longtime School of the Visual Arts instructor — SAW’s boards of directors and advisors feature an all-star line-up that includes Lauren Weinstein, Brendan Burford, Vanessa Davis, Shaenon Garrity, Bill Kartalopoulos, Donald Ault, Matt Madden, Joey Manley, Chris Staros, Phil Yeh, and William Ayers. School’s in!


Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Naruto, Vol. 46

Naruto, Vol. 46

Publishing | Brigid Alverson, Simon Jones, Gia Manry and Daniella Orihuela-Gruber provide commentary on Tuesday’s announcement that Viz Media is restructuring, laying off up to 60 employees and closing its New York City branch. Manry cautions that there’s little need for panic, while Jones points out that it’s unclear whether the company’s cuts are in its manga or anime divisions.

Alverson notes that the news came as such a surprise because Viz publishes the most popular manga properties (Naruto, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist) as well as some of the most acclaimed (Children of the Sea, Pluto, 20th Century Boys): “However, as publishing veterans know, acclaim does not necessarily equal sales.” [Viz Media]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

C2E2

C2E2

Conventions | The inaugural Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo drew an estimated 27,500 unique attendees, slightly less than the 30,000 expected. “We felt it was an excellent launch,” Lance Fensterman, Reed Exhibitions vice president, told ICv2.com. “For the last year this show has been a theory. For the last three days people have been able to walk around and experience what the event, the concept, and the community are about, and now we can grow from here.” Christopher Borelli, Brent DiCrescenzo and Heidi MacDonald file wrap-ups from the show. [C2E2]

Publishing | According to ICv2′s annual white paper, presented during the Diamond Retailer Summit at C2E2, sales of comics and graphic novels in the United States and Canada fell 5 percent last year as the total market declined from an estimated $715 million in 2008 to $680 million in 2009. In the book channel, manga sales dropped by more than 20 percent, while sales of kids and young-adult graphic novels jumped by more than 50 percent. [ICv2.com]

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Send Us Your Shelf Porn!

WholeShelf

Thank you for joining us for a very special, educational edition of Send Us Your Shelf Porn. Today’s guest is Ohio teacher Chris Peace, who is trying to improve his students’ reading skills by introducing them to comics. He’s even put together a small graphic novel library for them, which you can see in the photo above.

But Chris does a much better job explaining his collection than I ever could, so I’ll let him take over …

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The real question is who would win in a fight between Hulk and Sperminator?

Marvel Super Hero Squad and

Marvel Super Hero Squad and Middlesex-London Sex Squad: Adventures in ... Sex City

No, you’re not seeing double. The image on the left is the cover of an all-ages action-adventure video game featuring super-deformed versions of Marvel superheroes. The image on the right is the illustration for an online game developed by a London, Ontario, public-health unit to teach teens about safe sex.

If you get confused, just remember: Marvel Super Hero Squad features a cuddly version of the Incredible Hulk, a green-skinned Mr. Hyde to Bruce Banner’s Dr. Jekyll, while Middlesex-London Sex Squad: Adventures in … Sex City features Sperminator, an enormous luchador. An enormous luchador … with penises for arms. (That’s right. Now you know why I put a black bar over part of the image.)

One has Spider-Man, Iron Man, Storm and Captain America, the other has Willy the Kid, Power Pap, Wonder Vag and Captain Condom. It seems pretty evenly matched to me.

In the interactive game — we’re talking Adventures in … Sex City — teens are asked 25 questions related to sex: “Answering the questions correctly allows the superhero to conquer the evil Sperminator. However, if they answer a question incorrectly, they get shot with sperm by the Sperminator.”

Thankfully, players are protected by “a condom shield” if they answer correctly, allowing “the superhero to discharge the sperm back to the Sperminator.”

I swear, I’m not making this up! You can play the game for yourself here.

There’s no word yet as to whether Paul Tobin will be writing the comic-book adaptation. Stay tuned.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Weekly Astro Boy Magazine

Weekly Astro Boy Magazine

Publishing | Tezuka Productions and D-Arc Inc. has launched Weekly Astro Boy Magazine, a service that delivers manga by Osamu Tezuka to iPhones and iPods in the United States. Announced last month, it’s the first English-language manga service for mobile devices.

If I’m reading the site correctly, the premier “edition” of Weekly Astro Boy Magazine offers the first volume of Astro Boy for free. Subsequent volumes of that title, and other Tezuka classics like Phoenix, Dororo, Black Jack and Buddha, cost 99 cents each, and are available in weekly installments. [Weekly Astro Boy Magazine]

Education | Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza, creators of the webcomic Least I Could Do, have established The Rayne Summers Webcomic Scholarship at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. Named for the protagonist of their nearly seven-year-old comic, the scholarship will cover tuition for one student each year who is working toward a career in webcomics. [Least I Could Do, via The Daily Cartoonist]

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That’s Professor Bendis to you, pal

Brian Michael Bendis

Brian Michael Bendis

Charles Xavier now has some competition in the “famous bald educators from Marvel Comics” department. As previously mentioned on on his Twitter feed, Brian Michael Bendis will be teaching a class at Portland State University, and now he’s revealed the details.

On his message board, the Siege writer describes the course, “WR 399: The Graphic Novel,” as “a class that I wish I had when I was in college.” What looks like the official course-catalog description reads as follows:

The graphic novel features the unique marriage of words and pictures that has seeped into every facet of popular culture. This course will focus on all the storytelling elements that create the written word of this unique visual medium. Students will study the form and its influences, discover and create original works for both print and digital platforms, and be put through a classroom version of the editorial process. Throughout the term, there will also be a smattering of comic book professional guest lecturers.

The syllabus includes Robert McKee’s Story, Stephen King’s On Writing, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and Will Eisner’s Comics & Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative.

Bendis says he was inspired to take on the teaching gig by Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz, who featured him as a guest lecturer in her own PSU classes, as well as by the countless other comics professionals who’ve had parallel careers as educators. And to answer two questions Bendis’s many fans are no doubt asking: No, he won’t be posting his lectures online, and no, he’s not quitting any comics projects to make room for his two two-hour class sessions per week. (“I’ll be doing this instead of reading Empire magazine and playing Rock Band iphone app when I should be working,” he explains.)

Click the link for more details and background on the class.


Cool things to bookmark: Reading With Pictures

Classic Comics

Classic Comics

Reading With Pictures is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the use of comics in the classroom to aid in literacy and the visual arts:

Educators have begun to see the value of having graphic novels in the classroom — they just don’t know which books to use or how to best use them. To address those needs, Reading With Pictures plans to work with academics, educators, and publishers to provide schools with the best possible teaching methods and classroom materials in order to successfully integrate comics and graphic novels into their curriculum.

Among their goals are to create a database of lesson plans, provide consultation and launch a speakers’ bureau. It’s a project First Second’s Calista Brill finds worthy of merit:

There’s nothing fundamentally different about teaching comics literacy to kids than teaching them the basics of poetry, art, music, math, science, reading – even running. When we educate children, we are giving them the tools to educate themselves. To find the things they love. To experience the world more fully.

And as long as there are people making amazing comics in the world, anyone who lacks the basic tools to read them is missing out. Big time.

Brill puts it a lot better than I could have. If you have time or money available, consider donating to this worthy organization.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Marvel

Marvel

Legal | New York City-based law firm Levi & Korsinsky on Friday filed a class-action lawsuit challenging Disney’s $4-billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment. Like the earlier lawsuit filed by Marvel shareholder Christine Vlatos, this one claims the proposed transaction undervalues Marvel’s stock. [press release]

Business | DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson continues her interview tour, assuring retailer-oriented website ICv2.com “we’re going to be looking for a real publisher” to succeed Paul Levitz as head of DC Comics: “This is not about replacing someone with a cyborg unit that will answer to me. We want a publishing expert.”

At MTV’s movie-focused Splash Page, Nelson highlights DC’s Vertigo imprint as “an area of great interest” that “could potentially offer amazing stories for our future television video game, digital and consumer products businesses.” [ICV2.com, Splash Page]

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Straight for the art: Lasky’s flu comic

No Ordinary Flu

No Ordinary Flu

In a remarkable bit of timing considering this week’s headlines, the Seattle and King County is offering a 12-page comic on flu pandemics created by David Lasky.

‘Written in Bone’

Image from 'Written in Bone'

Image from 'The Secret in the Cellar'

The Smithsonian has a Webcomic up to tie in with their new exhibit about a skeleton found in southern Maryland titled The Secret in the Cellar:

The Secret in the Cellar, is a Webcomic based on an authentic forensic case of a recently discovered 17th Century body. Using graphics, photos, and online activities, the Webcomic unravels a mystery of historica, and scientific importance. Online sleuths can analyze artifacts and examine the skeleton for the tell-tale forensic clues that bring the deceased to life and establish the cause of death.

Printable .pdfs of the comic and accompanying materials are available at the site as well. (via Mike Rhode)

Hey kids, make comics!

Center for Cartoon Studies workshops

Center for Cartoon Studies workshops

The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is offering a series of cartooning workshops for ages 16 and up:

Summer is a great time for cartooning adventures! Brush up on some skills, learn new ones, or discover the world of cartooning for the first time ever. This summer we’re offering a new line up of options for ages 16+, including a college level workshop, Cartooning Studio, the short version of a keystone course in CCS’s curriculum, taught by CCS faculty, and special Extended Studio options for those with projects that need a little extra time.

Professors for the courses include Stephen Bissette, Robyn Chapman, Jon Chad and Alec Longstreth.


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