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Center for Cartoon Studies asks for donations

The Center for Cartoon Studies is now in its 5th year and are soliciting donations to raise money for the school. All proceeds are tax deductible (the school is a non profit company.)

The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) opened its doors to the inaugural class of twenty students in 2005. Many dedicated individuals, organizations, and businesses have worked hard to help put together a school whose goal is to provide a world class cartooning education. CCS is also pleased to be recognized as important contributor to White River Junction, Vermont?s revitalization efforts.

If you’re so inclined, please donate to their annual drive.

Community Comments

#1 Ted Rall
@ 11:06 am

Surely they can tap their alums. You know, the successful cartoonists who are making so much money from their CCS education that they have cash leftover to donate.

What a horrible scam. The sooner it shuts down, the better for cartooning–and for some as-yet-unsuspecting 17-year-old aspiring cartoonist.

#2 Zach Weiner
@ 11:57 am

I’m not sure what I think about a school of cartooning, but it’s not really reasonable to expect alums to be contributing significantly 5 years out.

5 years out of an English degree I wouldn’t have been able to give back, but that hardly invalidates my College’s English department.

#3 Ryan Sohmer
@ 12:07 pm

I’m not sure how this qualifies as a ‘scam’ anymore than any other education program. Unless schools have changed over the last decade, I’m fairly certain none of them offer guaranteed employment.

Like any program, I believe the CCS offers a base for a student to grow on.

I proudly donated,

#4 Ted Rall
@ 2:27 pm

CCS’ marketing program implies (a) $ and (b) that art school improves your chances if finding work. In truth, the opposite is true. You’re better off getting a life first. Then your art can have perspective and meaning. Experiences count for more than technique…and you can learn the technique cheaper one class at a time.

#5 Zach Weiner
@ 4:08 pm

Isn’t that a problem with any degree program that isn’t science, engineering, or math?

#6 Ted Rall
@ 4:15 pm

No. No one at the Columbia history department ever told me that great fame and riches awaited. I knew what was coming: big student loan debt.

The irony is, a history or political science degree is a lot more useful to a cartoonist than an art degree. If you’re not into politics, you could do worse than to major in literature. In comics, good writers will always be rare. Artists are a dime in dozen–and owe tens of thousands of bucks to Citibank.

#7 Layne Myhre
@ 4:18 pm

Heck, try getting a job with just an undergrad degree in science or math, even.

The purpose of Academia is to produce academics, not give people marketable skills. Only professional programs do that (engineering, law, medicine, etc). The only way to find gainful employment with a purely academic degree is to stay in Academia at least to the graduate level.

I would argue that CCS offers MORE technical skills than most academic programs… certainly you are more likely to get a job with a degree from CCS (maybe a graphic design job, or illustration work) than you would be with a Bachelor’s degree in English literature or social anthropology.

#8 Stacy Curtis
@ 4:22 pm

Having a knowledge of technique seems important to me. Then you can find a job, earn money and not beg other people for money so you can go to Afghanistan and write a book.

I donated money to them in your name, Ted. I hope that’s okay. ;-)

#9 Ted Rall
@ 4:25 pm

This is from CCS’ mission statement online:

The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) is dedicated to providing the highest quality of education to students interested in creating visual stories. CCS?s curriculum of art, graphic design, and literature reflect the wide array of skills needed to create comics and graphic novels. CCS emphasizes self-publishing and prepares its students to publish, market, and disseminate their work.

Imagine you’re 17. If I read this at that age, and I was naive as hell, I might have thought that getting “the highest quality of education” about “the wide array of skills needed (my emphasis)” to pursue my dream of becoming a cartoonist would give me a leg up in a competitive field.

There is no evidence, anecdotal or scientific, that art school helps you get a job creating comics or graphic novels. None.

I wouldn’t have a problem with them if they simply said:

“Hey, rich kids! Come squander two years of your life and tens of thousands of your parents’ money to talk about comics and learn cool stuff from neat cartoonists!”

Which brings me to the other thing: Only rich kids can afford that school. Aside from the fact that any school that doesn’t give out a significant amount of financial aid is inherently elitist, cartooning should never be professionalized; the barrier to entry should never be more than a few bucks for pen and paper.

The best thing about the Depression is that it will take things like CCS with it.

#10 Alan Gardner
@ 5:17 pm

Great idea Stacy. I just made a $20 donation in Ted’s name as well.

If you think Ted is being a bit obtuse, please make a donation of any size and mention in the description that it’s in his name.

#11 Joe Rank ( KRANKY )
@ 6:06 pm

I know plenty of working cartoonists, and to a person, they were all incipient doodlers from an early age. I know of none that ever brags about getting their “degree” or “certificate” from that mail order outfit that advertised in comic books years ago. Only one that I am aware of ( as I remember ) that had a fine art degree was Tom Curtis…and he left the editorial cartooning profession to dedicate working on paintings. Mauldin did talk about how taking life classes helped him. I’m sure that alot of the 19th century and early 20th had art as their background.

I agree with Ted : “The irony is, a history or political science degree is a lot more useful to a cartoonist than an art degree. If you?re not into politics, you could do worse than to major in literature.”

I have found being a professional musician to also be helpful. One meets so many characters of cartoonable features , and of varying opinions and humor. Seems like there are quite a few musicians that are also cartoonists: Bill Sanders, Jason Nocera, Ed Stein ( I think ), probably many more.

#12 Dave Stephens
@ 6:34 pm

Don’t forget – teaching a bunch of art courses all online, including cartooning, caricature and character design courses taught by REAL artists making a living with the exact skills they teach…

#13 Tom Wood
@ 6:51 pm

A similar discussion takes place within the animation industry. The consensus there is that a degree can help you move up the ladder into management at places like Pixar, after you get in the door. But to get in the door you must have a really good demonstration reel.

#14 Rob Leigh
@ 7:04 pm

?There is no evidence, anecdotal or scientific, that art school helps you get a job creating comics or graphic novels. None.?

Well then, here’s some anecdotal evidence for you:

I graduated from the Joe Kubert School (CCS founder Steve Bissette is also an alumnus). A year or so after graduating, I was in search of employment, and contacted the school to help me out. I was put in touch with a classmate of mine who was working at DC Comics. He arranged for me to meet with the head of the department (another alum). I was hired to work in the production department and later worked my way into management which enabled me to be involved in the hiring of at least a half dozen other alumni.

Nepotism? You bet. But when I was looking for people to hire, I knew that the guys from JKS had the skill set that was required. That gave them a leg up over their competition.

To continue; while working on staff, I was also freelancing for the company, eventually leaving to freelance full-time. I also taught at the school for several years, which put me in the position to be an advocate for some of my graduating students–calling editors on their behalf, helping them tailor their portfolios, etc. I’ve worked with some of them on their first assignments. I’ve even worked for some former students.

There’s more to art school than drawing the human figure or knowing how to hold a brush. There’s networking, which is priceless. I was also taught how to conduct myself as a businessman. Even paid off my student loans early (y’see, I wasn’t a rich kid; I had to take out loans, apply for grants and hold down a job).

In my graduating class of about 16 students, at least 9 or 10 broke into mainstream comicbooks. I am aware of at least six (including me) who are still in the field 20+ years later. Statistically, that has to be way above the norm. Former students from the JKS are very, very well represented in comics.

Anybody serious about their prospective livelihood should be serious about their training. If they can afford reputable education, they’d be foolish to squander the opportunity. There are no style points for being self-taught.

#15 Ted Rall
@ 7:25 pm

Actually, there are major style points for being self-taught. Many of the best cartoonists working today are self-taught…they don’t have that generic, pretentious, art school style.

#16 Rob Leigh
@ 7:41 pm

Now you’re arguing aesthetics.

You claimed that no one had ever gotten a job creating comics or graphic novels as a result of attending art school. I successfully refuted that.

#17 Stacy Curtis
@ 1:18 am

Anyone who went to school to learn how to draw and write cartoons is a hack.

You’re better off being self-taught and poorly draw over-wordy alternative cartoons and work a few jobs to earn a living.
That’s REAL LIFE experience … struggling cartoonist.

Anyone remember the Art Instruction School?
Instructors like Charles Schulz and Mort Walker.
Graduates like Pulitzer Prize winner, Steve Benson and Morrie Turner.
That place was a scam.

#18 Mike Peterson
@ 3:12 am

When you’re attempting to prove that a place promises riches, you really shouldn’t quote the part where they inform prospective students that they emphasize self-publishing.

#19 rick stromoski
@ 6:46 am

I’ve always felt that if you could learn just one new thing from a book, a class, seminar etc. it is worth the cost. It could make all the difference in the long run.

That said, many of my favorite illustrators have no formal art training. Many schooled illustrators/illustrators have a similiar generic “cartoony” look to their work. The trick is to take what you’ve learned and make it your own. Only then will the wheelbarrows of cash roll in.

#20 Ted Rall
@ 7:27 am

By the way, I heartily endorse making generous donations to CCS in my name. While you’re at it, send some cash to the next Nigerian you get an email from. Gotta get the economy moving again!

#21 Ted Rall
@ 7:35 am

I said there’s no evidence that art school gives you a better chance of making it. You went to art school, you made it. I bet you would have made it if you hadn’t. My opinion derives from the simple fact that the vast majority of great cartoonists didn’t do art school, and that the vast majority of art students who want to become working cartoonists do not.

No one has addressed my point about elitism.

#22 Mike Lester
@ 9:26 am

first installment of the ML Art School for Dummies: for the masses is cartooning is signage is hieroglyphics is symbols. (i.e.there are no cloud w/ speed lines when a real person runs away, etc.see # 2) 2.don’t draw feet like Jack Davis. He’s already done it and better than you ever will. 3.Your style is the result of your most honest labors. (labor being the operative word) 4.never give it away even if you have to take a broken ButtBlaster3000 in barter. Get SOMETHING of value in return if only to subliminally validate you as a businessman. 5.never use graphix paper that reveals perfectly horizontal lines when a chemical is applied. (ignore #5 if you’re trying to win a pulitzer.)

#23 Mike Lester
@ 9:34 am

btw: first installment -NO CHARGE, but my wife and I are going to ST. Martins for her b’day/rehab anniversary) and would be happy to sell you a cartoon at a ludicrously confiscatory price (as opposed to begging for donations).

#24 Ted Rall
@ 9:45 am

BTW, it should be noted that cartooning schools are a scam. Art school is a different animal. As someone smart pointed out to me today, the fact that cartooning can only be self-taught is what gives the field such an exciting, diverse sense of endless potential.

#25 Ryan Sohmer
@ 12:38 pm

The fact that you don’t even recognize the elitism coming off your own statements is ridiculously amusing.

If you could market that humor in your work, you might actually have a career people would want to emulate, Ted.

#26 henry Clausner
@ 1:15 pm

art school is good to develope certain skills and to learn how to use the tools of the trade…learn the business of art…learn to apply ourselves and get paid for what we do….i can keep going here…..but i need a coffee..

#27 Stephen Beals
@ 2:28 pm

When I was in art school, there were plenty of kids whose parents simply wrote a check and paid the expensive tuition. That was frustrating, but there were plenty of us who worked our tail off to be there. In the end, it amounted to how much effort you put into it all by yourself. If you were lazy, school was a waste of time. If you weren’t, you could have an advantage over those who didn’t go to school.

My experience in school was wonderful. We learned about drawing, design, writing, editing, etc. There was the danger of obtaining a sort of inbred style, but hard work allows you to develop away from that. Of course, if you want to work for a major animation studio or comic book company, having an inbred style is useful.

The networking possiblilities were good, although if you were out of one of the few social cliques that were prominent it was very difficult to get an easy entry level job. A social networking artist is a bit of an oxymoron.

But don’t underestimate the portfolio you wind up with and the people you know. It makes all the difference in the world.

Just make sure it’s what you want to do, because you’re spending a whole lot of time and money on one specific subject. Really, that’s the advice to any kid entering college, not just an art student.

#28 Phil Wohlrab
@ 2:52 pm

I mean.. if you’re a self taught guy or girl with the talent of Frank Cho or Frank Frazetta who can illustrate in a variety of styles and can pick and chose what style you’d like to illustrate in…. because everything you do looks awesome be it in comics or commercial illustration …Wow, you win. You’re awesome.

But If you’re drawing chicken scratch because that’s all you’re capable of drawing, and have never drawn any other way.. and you’re like .. “check this out..I’m self taught”. “look how pretty” No.. that doesn’t fly.. take a class

#29 Ted Rall
@ 3:14 pm

@Ryan: Why would anyone want anyone to copy their career? I’m happy with what I’m doing, and that’s what matters.

Oh, and in the future, don’t address your betters until spoken to.

#30 Mike Peterson
@ 3:34 pm

If every kid who played football in college went on to play in the NFL, how many teams would there have to be by now to absorb them all? I went to a “football factory,” but only a half dozen of my friends had NFL or NBA/ABA careers, and most of those lasted less than five years.

A girl I knew in college went on to get an MFA in theatre and then a very successful career in TV and movies.I asked her if her old college group ever got together and she quickly said, oh, no, because none of them had stayed in theater.

She told me, “A lot of people want it, but that’s not enough. You have to have to have it, and not many people do.”

But, just as some of my jock friends became coaches, and I’m sure some of her classmates have done community theater, there’s no reason to feel that time spent intensely pursuing something you care about, in the company of people who also care passionately about it, is a waste of time. Whether they burn out in future years is really rather irrelevant, though it’s helpful to be at a place with some kind of track record. But see above, my comments on football factories. Not everyone who wants it gets it.

And, just a sidenote, Stephen Beals notes that, if you want to work for a comic book company, having an “inbred style” can be useful. As it happens, the students at the Center are very strongly skewed towards comic books — as someone whose interest is in strips, I find very little to talk about with those folks, though they are within admittedly-hardy walking distance of my doorstep.

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