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For a long time, there were limited options to become a professional comic book creator. Option 1 was to just figure it out yourself, with lots of mistakes along the way. Option 2 was to go to a proper school to study fine art, which usually meant discovering on your own how to co-opt what was being taught for your own comics purposes. Option 3 was to buy How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema.
But as the years have passed, more options have surfaced, reflecting the richer comics field that now exists. More colleges have courses or majors that specifically focus on comics, but if that’s not a deep enough immersion, there are now a number of alternatives. Sure, you could still choose between those original three options, or you can consider one of these five venues of learning, each fitting different styles and budgets for all kinds of creators. After all, everyone learns differently.
1. The Kubert School
Originally named The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, The Kubert School was the first and remains the only accredited school in the United States devoted entirely to making comics. The three-year vocational college for cartooning and graphic art is located in Dover, New Jersey, about 45 minutes from New York City. Founded in 1976 by comics legend Joe Kubert (Sgt. Rock, Tarzan, Hawkman), it is now run by his sons Andy and Adam Kubert, who have had a string of hit comics at Marvel and DC.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Today we’re looking at one of the comics medium’s most restless and interesting inventors and theorists — and a pretty compelling storyteller to boot — Scott McCloud.
Cartoonist Chris Schweizer (the Crogan Adventures series) is also a professor at the Atlanta branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design and that combination can result in some cool things. Like this Crogan maquette he sculpted as an example for a character-design class.
Schweizer talks about the benefits of this kind of exercise when creating characters for a comic, but is also mindful of the dangers:
I spend a LOT of time on preproduction, but it’s a means to an end. Never, ever, ever let it be the end. It’s self-indulgent, and benefits you nothing. ALWAYS make sure your concept work is leading to stories. Otherwise you’re just playing with yourself.
SLG Publishing is bringing back their Creator’s Studio series, which cover topics of interest to aspiring comic creators.
The first one, scheduled for March 7, will include seminars on the realities of making a living in comics, an “imagining the page” seminar where writers and artists discuss the components of a comics page, and a drawing demonstration by Byron creator Karl Christian Krumpholz. The cost is $14.95.
In addition, a four-week series on writing comics with Serena Valentino (Gloomcookie, Nightmares & Fairy Tales) kicks off April 11. The cost is $60.
Both classes are held at SLG’s headquarters in San Jose, Calif. If you’d like to attend, you can register online. A complete class schedule is available at www.slgcomic.com/workshops. For more information, call SLG Publishing at 408-971-8929 or email Dan Vado at email@example.com.
Check out the entire press release after the jump.
Well, what you’ve sent is fine, but a publisher can’t determine what they’re getting from this sort of package. Surely you know how hard it is to break in to comics, and, yet, how easy it is at the same time. Do the work, put it out, and people may not like your work; they may not buy it, but at least they know you can do it. Which is important.
I never go through the whole steps of the process for folks who send me stuff blind, but I feel a bit badly we had some crossed signals over the holidays, so I’m going to outline how REDACTED might be the next WATCHMEN but I would never know it based on your email and 12 page pdf.
Firstly, in your cover letter, you say you think the story might be best served by a six issue miniseries. If each issue is a color cover with B&W interiors and, say, a 24 page count and, optimistically, a 3000 copy print run (based on the current climate and the fact that you are unknowns), you’re looking at a publisher committing $30,000 to your printing bill alone. Six full-page PREVIEWS ads will top $7000, and throw in another three grand to round it off for production costs and shipping charges and whatnot, and that’s an outlay of forty grand. Just ballpark, but close enough. If the cover price is $2.95 a unit, and you sell to Diamond at 60% off, you get $1.18 a unit. That means you have to sell an average of around 5600 copies an issue just to break even on expenses before the creators start making money. That’s just unrealistic in this economic environment, where Marvel, Dark Horse, DC, and Image account for 92% of the sales of comics and every single other publisher in the back of PREVIEWS carves up that 8%. It’s just not going to happen.
What do you do now? You can keep soliciting the thoughts of other publishers; you can have a few beers and curse my name. You can believe me or not; me… I didn’t believe all the rejection slips I got from people telling me ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: LIVE FROM THE MOON wouldn’t sell and that there was no audience for that sort of thing, and we’ve got Year’s Best Science Fiction and Best Publisher and real-world press up the wazoo for it. Does that mean those other folks were wrong? Well, no. They were right for how they saw it at the time. But I had a completed work, ready to go, and I thought I could entertain folks and market it to those under-served, and everyone who told me no made me more resolved that I was right.
And, you know, it turned out I was and there were some folks wanting to read science fiction graphic novels and some creators wanting to do whatever they wanted and I was only too happy to point out to those paying attention the quality work. And I ended up not being Kurt Vonnegut like I intended but Stan Lee or Roger Corman. And, you know; I’m fine with that.
But the way I see it, you’re going to have to do the same thing. If you have a story to tell, and a burning desire to have an audience see your work, you’re either going to have to be related to Paul Levitz, or you’re going to have to do it yourself until they offer you a chance to write KAMANDI based on the strength of your indie-darling reputation.
But either way, keep at it. If you love comics as much as I do, you’ll always find a way to make your own.