Teaching is a huge part of my life. I am the lucky guy who fell in love with his day job. Parenting has definitely been the most powerful learning experience of my life, but teaching comes in a close second.
I presently hold the position of Cartooning Coordinator in the department of Illustration and Cartooning at the School of Visual Arts. I started at SVA when department chair Thomas Woodruff hired me to teach Drawing for Cartoonists in 2005. Since then I have added a number of classes, and took on the Cartooning Coordinator role in 2016.
As Cartooning Coordinator, I advise Cartoon Allies, SVA's cartoonists' club (founded in 2005 by my former intern Tintin Pantoja!), and also advise SVA's student-edited comics anthology, INK. I also participate in or oversee a variety of events on and off campus. Additionally I serve as a general departmental guidance resource for cartooning students.
In addition to my work at SVA, I have been a guest teacher at the Center for Cartoon Studies, the Sequential Artists' workshop, the Buffalo Public Library, the Ann Arbor Art Association, the Omega Institute, and Society of Illustrators.
My current classes at SVA:
This is a class in creating original stories and developing them as comics on paper in black and white. We will develop strategies for plot, setting, character, and dialogue, using both images and words. I begin with an impulsive and spontaneous approach to making comics, and move toward a deliberate and layered approach. We will explore different formats and genres, and will create increasingly ambitious stories as the year progresses. We will also explore decisions about design, composition, staging and acting, as well as processes for generating ideas, artistic thinking and experimental structure. We will engage the creative brain maximally by looking, drawing, reading, writing, talking and listening. Please bring to the first class: a #2 (.6 mm) Rapidograph pen and a small bottle of Koh-i-noor Rapidraw ink.
Principles of Cartooning
This class will provide technical instruction in the control of traditional tools to create comics in black and white on paper. In order to focus on materials and technique, we will create comics using existing scripts. We will break down projects into process divisions so as to focus on skills specific to each stage. I provide lectures and demonstrations on topics like hand-lettering, inking, drawing backgrounds, building characters, page design, composition, staging and acting. In the spring I begin to introduce experimental structures. Our study will be mirrored by an exploration of comics’ history of formal innovation; as the comics we read become increasingly sophisticated, so too will the comics we draw. This year-long class is required for the Cartooning major.
Drawing for Cartoonists
This course is a synthesis of the academic drawing tradition with the practical needs of the cartoonist, using the cartoonist’s tools and materials. Students will be given strategies for drawing anything that could possibly appear in a comics panel. We begin with observational drawing from the live model and explore anatomy, and then use photographs to transition to character drawing. The mechanics of how folds in costumes respond to character poses, and how those characters look under various lighting conditions will be covered. The class will then turn its attention to the background and draw animals, analyze elements of landscape and, finally, undertake a thorough investigation of architecture and linear perspective.
Digital Comics Process & Technique
Making comics from script to finished color using an all-digital process is the focus of this course. Emphasis will be on advantages the digital environment presents—instant access to transparency, cloning, photo reference and precision graphic design tools. We will utilize an Adobe-centric workflow by drawing layouts and lettering in Illustrator; penciling, inking and coloring in Photoshop; and compositing inks, color and lettering in InDesign. Students will examine type design issues specific to comics, and create their own hand-lettering fonts using Fontographer. All work will be done on Mac Pro computers with Wacom 22HD Cintiq tablets.
Mixed Media Comics
Are you getting tired of the narrow scope of comics drawn with black ink and colored in Photoshop? In this course students will instead make comics using a wide range of media. We will study examples from art forms that include collage, cut paper, photography, costume, motion pictures, diorama, graphic design, puppetry, animation and performance. Students will create a series of art objects in order to try out different media, and then use those objects as the basis for making one-page comics. Emphasis will be on using physical art materials; digital tools will also be used to manipulate images.
Cartooning Summer Precollege (for high school students)
At the School of Visual Arts, we can't be more serious when we talk about comics—the art of making comic books, comic strips, manga, and graphic novels. In the 1940s the college began as a training ground for some of the pioneers of the Golden Age of cartooning—one of the first schools to offer a major in cartooning—and many of the great creators in American comics history either taught or are alumni of this famous department. In the 21st Century the program is better than ever—the program is seen professionally as the leader in the field of cartooning, and attracts some of the best students of their generation from around the world, with our teachers being some of the most celebrated contemporary creators in the country. This is an intensive "Comics Boot Camp" for students of all levels of talent and experience, from the "expert" to the "just trying it out for the first time". Young creators congregate and make comics and learn from some of our best core faculty all aspects of comics storytelling. With an 8-page comic as the main project (that students will print and publish in a small edition at course end to take home), students also take additional classes to enhance this project and their skills at drawing and writing. By course end, each student will have worked dynamically to create a meaningful comic of their own story and style, and will have developed ideas and skills that give them a strong foundation for comics and other creative pursuits, and finding their voice in their art. This course covers all the bases in style—including classic superhero and narrative comics, experimental graphic novels and "independent comics", and comics influenced by manga and anime. Each instructor has particular areas of focus. PLEASE NOTE: Pre-College courses may include working from nude models.