Center for Cartoon Studies
I spoke to a class at the Center for Cartoon Studies in tiny White River Junction, Vermont, Thursday, as a visiting artist. The school opened in September 2005 and is perhaps one of only two schools solely dedicated to cartooning in the country. Now 36 students are enrolled in its two-year program and its first class is slated to graduate this May.
The place is thriving. (Full disclosure: A close friend teaches at the school, I was paid to speak there, and I have other more distant associations.) Students are producing accomplished work – quiet personal narratives recalling John Porcellino, Seussian poetic fantasies, super hero parodies reminiscent of “The Incredibles,” historical tales as Dupuy and Berberian might render them, dark surreal adventures with echoes of Dan Clowes. Here are some samples: 1 2 3 4 5. These are students and so they’re still figuring things out, but there’s lots of promise here.
The school feels like an alternative comics think tank, as co-founder James Sturm (above drawing with students) describes it, a place where best practices are taught, fresh ideas thought. What will the school’s influence be, say, ten years out? What new approaches will come just from bringing the cream of our young cartoonists together? Based on what they’re doing now, many of the students who keep at it will be doing great work. And they’ll spread the school’s ideas. This can only be a good thing.