Preview Blog: Are comic colleges any use?

Season 1, Episode 2 Preview blog – by Luke H. Listen to the episode here.

Cartooning programs have been appearing in various places across America over the last decade or so.

From courses in The School of Visual Arts in New York or the Savannah College of Art and Design, to specialist schools like the Joe Kubert School and The Center for Cartoon Studies, it is becoming more and more possible to earn an education in comics.

On top of this, third level Manga courses have been available in Japan for decades, and institutions across Europe have been offering education in comics for a long time.

So does getting educated in comics help? Obviously you can learn to draw figures, and study colour theory, but can you be taught how to tell a good comic-book story?

Is it better you autodidacticly improve your own work through resources online and in books? Or should you be a complete purist and remain unaffected by the perspectives of others?

In a broader sense, does going through any kind of art program give you an advantage as an independent cartoonist?

People have come out as being for and against these kinds of schools, and that’s what we’re going to be discussing on Episode 2 of The Web Comics Company Podcast.

Here’s what we want to know from you:

“Is attending a comics college a good strategy, or could you improve your work just as much with two years of independent practice?”

The whole team is sure to have some interesting perspectives on this issue, and we’d love to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment below, and add your voice to The Web Comics Company Podcast!

7 Responses to “Preview Blog: Are comic colleges any use?”

  1. Dave2 July 2012 at 01:47 #

    I think it varies person to person. Living in America, and watching the American educational system, I think it’s VERY easy for most people to stop learning once they’re done with school. When you graduate and go off into the world, it’s really easy to think, Well, my learning is done I guess, and start slacking off. If the right person knows how to stay on the ball and devote time to studying, I think studying on your own can work great. For some people, college almost seems like a waste of time. However I think these sorts of people are very few and far in between.

    I, myself, would love to go back to college for comics, just to asborb every little bit I could. But with the right dedication, you can learn on your own, what almost any college could teach you.

    I guess I’d say webcomics, writing or art, and creativity in general is something you learn more by doing it on your own, watching what succeeds and what fails, and work at it every day. Certainly a college education couldn’t hurt, but what it comes down to, is if you want to tell good stories, the only way you’ll get better at that is by telling your stories and learn from every story you tell. As fun as listening to an Alan Moore interview is, in the end you can listen to hours of him talking, and go to hundreds of lectures by comics artists… But in the end you won’t walk out with a great idea for a story, you’ll only learn what works for them. It can help, but at some point you just have to dive into the deep end, instead of wading around in the shallow end hours on end.

  2. Steven I2 July 2012 at 14:50 #

    Even though I make comics I’d say that the best education you can get in story telling is to read novels. Reading novels and imagining what is happening while reading has personally helped me break scenes down into panels, but still keep a coherant story going. The hard part is getting all that subtext that is described in a novel into the art, but that’s something I think can only come with practice and improving your art.

    Having listened to Jason Lutes (of ‘Berlin’ fame) talk about his teaching at the Centre for Cartoon Studies in it sounds like a fun course, but not much that I couldn’t learn on my own or through just talking to other cartoonists.

    • Steven I2 July 2012 at 14:53 #

      Ha, ok that link should have been this

      • Luke Healy3 July 2012 at 11:12 #

        That is such a great podcast. I’d never heard it before. Thanks for the link.

      • smbhax4 July 2012 at 09:05 #

        = o What he ^ said. : )

  3. smbhax3 July 2012 at 03:57 #

    I got an art degree from a liberal arts college, and I would say that the general principles of art I learned–not so much technical skills, which they were not big on :P–were instrumental in showing me that I *can* develop my own artistic style.

    Writing though–or rather, that I *can* tell stories–I learned from sort of falling into a story writing position in a previous job.

    So from my point of view there is definitely very crucial stuff you can learn from others; whether you get that from a dedicated comics school course, though, I have no idea, not having taken one.

    Since the Kubert school was mentioned, I’ll add that I’ve been listening to a lot of comic podcasts lately, and I’ve heard interviews with some traditional newspaper-type comic strip artists–I think these have been mostly on Comics Coast to Coast or Tall Tale Radio–who went to the Kubert school and certainly seemed happy about it as a useful institution, although I think for the most part that was for the artistic–drawing–side of things, not so much for comic strip writing. Writers on *those* shows have mostly said they learned simply from reading and analyzing a lot of comics–primarily Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and so forth for this comic stripping crowd.


  1. Series 2 Episode 2 – Are Comic Colleges Any Use? | The Web Comics Company - 9 July 2012

    […] week, the team is missing Matt but they manage to solider on regardless! The topic is “are comic colleges any use?“(click the link to read the preview blog) and Luke Healy is in the command […]

Leave a Reply