Thursday, March 13, 2008

Graphic Lit: Comics in the classroom, part two

Here's the second part of my "comics in education" story, with a look at a the Center for Cartoon Studies and some quotes from students taking the afore-mentioned comics class at Dickinson College.

While Dickinson students are taking classes to learn about comics, Chuck Forsman of Mechanicsburg is taking classes to learn how to make comics.

Forsman, 25, is enrolled at the Center for Cartoon Studies, a two-year, full-time school based in White River Junction, Vt., focused entirely on the art of cartooning and comics.

Founded in 2004, the school deals with everything from basic drawing classes to design, production, storytelling, history, color theory and more, said Michelle Ollie, the managing director and co-founder of the school.

“We saw there was a demand for having a program that has the intensity of curriculum and faculty and programming centered around cartooning,” she said.

For his part, Forsman had been attending classes at HACC, but “the desire to do comics was really swelling,” he said, “It was like I was 10 years old again.”

Forsman credits the school with improving his drawing and storytelling skills.

“I think it’s really easy to think that the school has had a smaller impact on us than it actually has because comics are so solitary that it kinda feels like I did it all myself,” he said. “But then you realize everything that the instructors introduced you to, and all the little things you know and take for granted now and realize how much you have gotten out of this place.”

Forsman will be graduating from the school at the end of this semester and says his future plans include working on a serialized, self-published comic, a graphic novel idea and some children’s book pitches.

“As far as making money,” he said, “I will probably try to get into a design job somewhere. and work on comics at night.”

THEIR VOICES

Here’s what the students of David Ball’s Graphic Narratives class at Dickinson College have to say: 

“I thought [the syllabus] would just be a lot more of ‘Sin City,’ ‘V for Vendetta,’ the vigilantes and super heroes and it’s not. It’s very contemporary and realistic, just like actual short fiction and novels today.”
— Senior Kaitlin Marks-Dubbs, 21, of Pottsville 

“Before ... I would see comics as a children’s thing or for those who just like to read stories ... I never knew comic strips and comic books could have such depth to them. It’s really surprising to me.”
— Sophomore Garrett Green, 19, of Simi Valley, Calif. 

“I wanted to take this class because I was really interested to see what I didn’t know about comics. I felt like I had this impression of comics, that they were a low art form. This class ... showed [they] could be poetic and literary, and I thought that was really interesting and different than any other class that you would take on campus.”
— Freshman Lauren Schoneker, 18, of Landsdale 

“I’m loving it a lot. [I’ve been surprised by] the extraordinary depth of all of the literature that we’ve been reading.”
— Freshman Danny Mulvihill, 18, of San Diego, Calif. 

“There’s a lot more to comics than I previously thought. Things I hadn’t thought about. It’s definitely sparked an interest that will continue after the course is finished.”
— Freshman Chris Skove, 20, of Richmond, Va. 
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