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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.
The five-issue miniseries finds Brown teaming with writer Ales Kot to craft the new adventures of former Secret Avenger Jim Rhodes (while it is currently a miniseries, as noted in this late January tweet by Kot: ” … there is room for more if the series does well. We might just extend if so”). Given that Brown is a 2010 graduate of The Kubert School, I took the opportunity in this brief interview to also discuss that experience and its impact on him.
In the wake of Steve Niles, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Justin Gray’s Creator-Owned Heroes, it’s nice to see other creators establishing informal studios to take a stab at the ongoing-anthology format. Anthony Marques, Fernando Ruiz, Bob Hardin and Fabio Redivo are graduates and current staff instructors of the Kubert School who have teamed to produce Epics, a quarterly comic that serializes four pulp-inspired stories. Marques is creating Katyusha, Ruiz has The Iron Ghost, Hardin’s making A Racy Story and Redivo presents Drake.
The first issue was paid for by fans via Kickstarter and released Sept. 15 during a special signing at Dewy’s Comic City in Madison, New Jersey, but subsequent issues will be published by A Wave Blue World. The publisher has the first issue for sale right now (it’s also available digitally through comiXology) and promises that Issue 2 will be released in March. There are also plans for Katyusha and Iron Ghost spin-off series next year.
Check out previews of all four stories after the break.
Digital comics | Watchmen co-creator David Gibbons discusses the comics he’s making for the Madefire digital app: “The term that we bandied around was that reading comics on the Madefire platform is a bit like reading comics on “intelligent” paper in that it’s got all the virtues of regular paper but it can do a whole lot of other things that a printed version can’t. There are wonderful things it can do with movement of the tablet, with animated transitions, and with ambient and event sound. We’ve also talked about creating the new grammar of graphic storytelling.” [ICv2]
Creators | A sold-out appearance by Stan Lee scheduled for Sept. 27 at Ohio’s Toledo-Lucas County Public Library has been canceled because of what the legendary writer’s agent reportedly described as “a very serious circumstance.” The library had sold 2,300 tickets for the “Authors! Authors!” series event, which had already been moved from April 18 because of a scheduling conflict. Lee, who turns 90 in December, cut short some public appearances in May, with a spokesman citing promotional fatigue and the death of Lee’s longtime business associate Arthur Lieberman. [Toledo Blade]
A generation ago, becoming a comic book creator was usually a solitary and self-guided process. Sure, there was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, The Kubert School (still going strong), and a few other tools, but for the most part you were on your own. Today there is a blossoming variety of resources that are building a smarter and more skilled community of tomorrow’s comics makers.
One of the most recent additions is Comics Workbook, a new web magazine set up by cartoonist Frank Santoro (Storeyville, Kramer’s Ergot). As he explained on his own Tumblr, Santoro intentionally set out to put together a team of contributors that consisted of more girls than boys to “flip the script on this comics magazine thing”. Instead of looking to other comics sites, he turned to girls roller derby and the supportive community those teams create, and is trying to “copy their model.” The results are a rough yet immediate DIY vibe that displays comics and minicomics in-progress (such as “The Great” by Alyssa Berg, pictured here), brief yet hilariously brash reviews in comics form, a series of reflections on Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, links to interviews and reviews, and more.
Santoro is in the middle of teaching an eight-week correspondence course for comic book makers, and has written a series of columns examining layouts and color for The Comics Journal. So the guy definitely knows his stuff and has some interesting theories (even if they are beyond me as a non-artist).
Lauded as premiere school for aspiring comic artists for decades, the Kubert School has mentored dozens of today’s top comic creators and now it’s opening its doors for the next generation. On April 21, the Kubert School is hosting an open house at its Dover, New Jersey location from 1 to 4 p.m. Among the promised features are guided tours of the school and facility, demonstrations by its teachers, and one-on-one time with founder Joe Kubert and his two sons Andy and Adam Kubert. If that wasn’t enough, there’s refreshments, raffles and giveaways.
For decades, the Kubert School has taught legions of comic creators, and even comic fans might remember the school’s fun advertisements in the backs of comics over the years. In addition to offering full college-like daily courses, the school also does correspondence courses and weekend sessions for those who can’t attend full time.
This open house is an ideal opportunity for any would-be comics creator, or even just an overzealous comics fan like myself, to get an inside look at what it takes to make comics. I hear they’ll even admit robots!