Sunday, May 1, 2022

Summer Classes are Enrolling Now!


This summer, study Short Form ComicsThinking in InkFigure Drawing for Cartoonists Online and Live in ManhattanCartooning Basics Online and Live.   And there’ll be another free Daredoodling event on May 12.

Pandemic or no, online courses are a rare opportunity for artists all over the world to learn from SVA instructors. The School of Visual Arts has been ground-zero for cartooning instruction since its founding in the 1940s. I’ve taught hundreds of New Yorkers and visitors over the years, but now I can help you, too, wherever you are.

That said, it will be nice to be back in the classroom for Figure Drawing and Cartooning Basics. The live experience offers more one-on-one instruction opportunities and in the Figure class, we have live models every second week.

Let’s make comics!

Saturday, March 26, 2022

I have a new book out!


From the back cover:

Poem: A Mashup

What makes poetry effective? How does a poem work? What are its goals and aims? 
Taking his cue from the musical form of mashup, in POEM M. D. Usher has composed what is known as a cento, stitching together snippets from famous poems in such a way that the words of the text illustrate the aspect of poetry being described. A lively introduction and short, irreverent biographies of the featured poets add to the fun. 

In T. Motley’s artwork, Word literally becomes Flesh, as letters emerge like epiphanies from the drawings. 

POEM is a unique achievement that stands in relation to canonical poetry as Disney’s film, Fantasia, stands to classical music—first of its kind, something for all ages, and well worth experiencing again and again. 

Order it here, PLEASE.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Cartooning is for Everybody!

I must confess that, as devoted as I am to the comics medium, the comics industry doesn't interest me. To me, the point of comics is that anybody can make them and effectively use them to publish their thoughts.

I'll walk you through the basics of character construction,...

That said, comics are so rich and varied, there's no limit to how deeply one can delve into a project and how far one can pursue the craft.

... the special language of comics, such as the motion lines and sound effects in these examples by the great Don Martin, ... 

My Cartooning Basics class, beginning live in Manhattan on June 9 and online starting June 10, takes artists of every level and arms them with the technical means to vent or play or interrogate ideas and feelings as they see fit. Short Form Comics, beginning June 7, takes us a step further as we explore various ways to approach comic short stories.

... authenticating details, as explained in the Famous Cartoonists course, ...

Along the way, we build from simple tricks to advanced concepts. The results are typically spectacular.

... the invisible art of composition, as in this maximally minimal Alex Toth panel, and much besides.

Needless to say, we all have MUCH to vent about nowadays. Getting it down on paper can be a sizable relief.

Time's running out to sign up. Come CARTOON!

Sunday, January 16, 2022

New Online Course Enrolling Now!

Short Form Comics is a course I've taught to undergraduates for several years. I'm offering it to the public, online, beginning June 7.

We'll produce rough drafts of comic stories from a variety of departure points, generating a backlog of material for students to complete at their leisure. Weekly assignments concentrate on different kinds of comics and aspects of the medium. One week we'll spin joke strips out of literary classics, another we'll make silent, cinematic metaphors. Another assignment will involve hyperbole and explosive layouts, comics as genre.  And there'll be space for non-fiction, memoir, ranting, and a hefty dose of formal experimentation.

This is a good course for artists who want to be better at writing and for writers who want insight into visual storytelling. There'll be a strong element of blockbusting-- overcoming the blank page and discovering stories lurking at the back of your mind that you didn't necessarily know you wanted to tell.

Short Form Comics runs on Tuesday evenings. My other online courses this semester, Cartooning Basics, Figure Drawing for Cartoonists, and Thinking in Ink, also start the second week of June. Sign up soon!

I'm also teaching Figure Drawing for Cartoonists on Wednesdays, live in Manhattan beginning June 8, and Cartooning Basics live Thursdays beginning June 9.

Let's make comics!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Online CE Student Spotlight

Here's the Kirby-inspired cover to the comic made in Cartooning Basics by long-time student, Howell Murray. Howell's getting very comfortable with the medium and having a great time.

and here's page one!

Let's begin with some ACTION ITEMS. If you're seeing this the day it posts, January 13, 2022, please hop over to the New Media Writing competition and cast a vote for one of my GOAT students, Laura Brown, and her Avon Lady webcomic. You're free to browse the other works, of course, but you'll see that Laura's is the best. It's nice to see a competition like this happening.

And maybe also there's still time to sign up for my newest Daredoodling session.

Another long time student, Kate Brehm, is fundraising for a puppet show, The Eye Which We Do Not Have, which will be awesome.

You'll want this new book by Christy Strauch, the money coach. It's helping me! I coached Christy through the process of making the illustrations.

There was an astonishing amount of wonderful work produced in my SVA classes last fall. I'm confining myself to examples of those students who explicitly gave me permission to share. I'll be happy to show more as I hear back from folks. Anyway, check this out: 

Jenna Del Vigna created this excellent comic strip in Cartooning Basics

The goal of the Figure Drawing for Cartoonists course is to complete one finished page of comics.  Here's a page by Lynn Bernstein. You can read more at her Instagram.

And here's a gorgeous page by Tom Hughes.
this minicomic cover was made by Jenn Robinson in the Thinking In Ink course.

and a number of students have posted their homework on Instagram. here are a few gems by Georgia, DemiCarmenPauline, PaulDave, Katharine, Beverley, Jennifer, ...

Spring semester courses are enrolling now and starting soon. I'm offering Cartooning Basics both online and live. Figure Drawing for Cartoonists will be live in Manhattan, with models every second week. It'll be great to do some life drawing again. And I'm offering a new online course, Short Form Comics, where you'll be tasked with writing/sketching a rough draft for a different type of comic every week. You'll end with a backlog of ideas and material to develop at your leisure. Come join us!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Student Spotlight: Michaela Pohl


Michaela Pohl is a history professor from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, working on a graphic memoir. She amazed her classmates all summer in the Figure Drawing for Cartoonists course with her expressive, forceful, graphically bold drawing style.

Her graphic memoir, Accusation: A German Childhood, deals with rigid adoptive parents in 1970s Germany and their closeted Holocaust denial. In the summer course, Miki completed a chapter called The Hitler Box. Check out pages 1, 2, and 6:

The life of  a college professor is a busy one. Let's hope we can read her comic in print someday soon. 

Regarding the online figure course, Miki says, "The figure drawing class helped me design characters that are more memorable and easier to draw repeatedly, and to continue work from other classes and make my pages more visually impactful. Having classes that were online was extremely important to me during a challenging year and a half."

Fall classes start next week! Thinking In Ink on Tuesdays, Figure Drawing for Cartoonists on Wednesdays, Cartooning Basics on Thursdays, all online 6:30-9:30 pm EST. Join us!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Hard Work of Making It Look Easy


Student Jen Robinson's self-referential high-contrast study for Thinking In Ink

"You make it look so easy," students often exclaim as I demonstrate some tweak to their work, a flipped curve or added stroke, that changes the whole look. I point out that there are jugglers who make what they do look easy, too.

Behind the tweaks lie governing principles one can learn. When a comic is illegible, confused, or dull, it usually turns out that the artist was lost in the weeds, distracted by some aspects of the problem to the exclusion of others.

Anybody can learn to make comics. You can probably teach most of it to yourself, as many do. But it's helpful to have a guide, someone to point your attention to problems you overlooked or weren't aware of.

Have a look at these examples of successful student work from my recent SVA online courses, Cartooning Basics, Thinking In Ink, and Figure Drawing for Cartoonists.

A hatching study of a plush goose doll by Jill Adams. Jill has many more ink studies on her Instagram.

Gestures, curve rhythms, and emanata enliven this Betty Boop study by Sharon Lee De La Cruz

Much of the classwork is drawn from life, such as Sharon's ink line and halftone sketch above. Check out her new graphic memoir.

The courses culminate in sequential stories, such as this beauty by Steven Wong.

Lou Venech completed his very first comic in Cartooning Basics, the story of his unruly kitten. Here's the cover, center spread, and back page. The course surveys the entire process, from concept and writing through the printed booklet.

To be continued? Let's make sure of it. The summer enrollment period will end soon. Spread the word please and come cartoon with us!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Beyond Basics

Cartooning Basics student work by Maisy Byerly


My online Cartooning Basics and Comic Inking courses are enrolling right now at SVA.

Though I teach the comic making process from the beginning and often work with absolute beginners, my courses are nonetheless college level. Many students come to the experience with significant talent. I'm able to help them marshall their skills and focus them on key problems such as joke writing, action staging, page and panel composition, and much more. Below are examples of outstanding students who brought their A game to recent courses and completed amazing projects.

Maisy Byerly zoomed in to Cartooning Basics from Bloomfield Indiana. Her first completed minicomic, Violet Goes Into Business, is clearly the work of a seasoned pro:

Here's her expressiveness exercise from earlier in the course:

Tom Hughes' strong cinematic sensibility helps put his adventures of Julius "Nervous" Rex over the top. Tom incorporated his compressed story exercise from early in the Basics course into his final book project.

Laura Brown completed the Cartooning Basics and then Figure Drawing for Cartoonists course while also pursuing the Graphic Narrative MFA. Sez Laura, "If I hadn’t taken your cartooning classes this year, I wouldn’t have been able to create my final project for the visual narrative semester (my digital short story). I’m not exaggerating. These past two semesters have been an incredibly rewarding experience for me: stimulating, challenging, illuminating and gratifying. Your insight, openness and generosity with feedback gave me so many ways to approach drawing, to make drawings better and to have fun in the process. Thank you!"

One of the course exercises is to imagine the characters in their environment.

Laura was already an accomplished writer. Here she weds her ear for dialog to visual storytelling techniques in a zoom sequence exercise: 

Here's a scene from Laura's first comic...

and here's a page from her master's thesis, The Avon Lady, a story told as an interactive website.  

This one leaves me beyond amazed, truly next-level. 
All three of these artists bear watching. 

When you look at a comic, you say to yourself, "that looks pretty fun" (IT IS), and you think, "I'll bet I could do that"... (YOU CAN) ..."and be pretty good at it." (YOU TOTALLY, TOTALLY WILL).


There are a lot more challenges and pitfalls than one can anticipate. I'll be happy to guide you. Thinking in Ink begins June 8 and Cartooning Basics begins June 10. The online format is working out really well and makes these classes available all over the world. As schools reopen, that may change. Sign up ASAP and tell your friends, please.