Center for Cartoon Studies graduates its first class

The first graduating class of the Center for Cartoon Studies have been issued their diplomas and are out drumming up work to pay off their $30,000 tuition for the two year institution.

More than 150 people crammed into the downtown opera house Saturday afternoon to watch the 18 cartoonists graduate.

Commencement speaker Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the newspaper strip, “Mutts,” delighted the crowd with tales of his friendship with the late “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz and his early efforts to get published, which led to a surprise gig with The New York Times’ Sunday magazine.

McDonnell said now is the ideal time to become a cartoonist, because major book publishers are picking up graphic novels and the movie industry looks to the medium for inspiration.

The Center for Cartoon Studies is part of that upward movement, he said, because it is an “institution that recognizes the accession of comics as a legitimate art form.”

“Art is magic,” McDonnell said. “And one of its most powerful spells is to heal.”