Monthly Archives: September 2010

Professor Kevin Kilgore

Long-time readers of the Schulz Blog may remember CCS alum Kevin Kilgore’s essay on the Sangmyung University Cartooning Program in South Korea.  I’m happy to report that Kevin has recently joined the faculty of that prestigious institution!  I caught up with him over email and we chatted about his new class.

Schulz Blog: What classes are you teaching?

Kevin: I’m teaching two classes of a course titled “Idea,” and it’s all in English. I have about 40 students total. It’s a 3-hour, freshman-level course, but I have a few juniors and seniors in both of my classes. The course works on coming up with ideas, and turning them into finished art. The course title is kind of vague, so I’m trying to expose the students to non-Korean-Japanese comics. So far we’ve done a gag-comic exercise and an autobiographical exercise…we’re going to delve into minicomics for one class, and I think their final will be a group project in minicomic form.

Schulz Blog: What are your students like?

Kevin: My students range in age from 18 – 23. Some of the male students are a little older because they are usually drafted into the army for two years at the age of 19-20. There’s an even balance between male and female students. Six of my 40 students are Chinese, which I discovered the hard way. I gave them a gag assignment using the Korean dish kimchi, and they stared blankly while the Korean students put pen to paper. Although all of the students speak English, they’re rather shy when it comes to speaking in class, which can make lectures brief and one-sided. That works for me because I’m not very talkative anyway. I tend to load the class with a lot of drawing exercises to make up for the brief lecture time. The students are workhorses when it comes to the drawing exercise.

Schulz Blog: What are their interests and ambitions, as cartoonists?

Kevin: I would have to say, except for the Chinese students, the majority of my pupils are into and influenced by Japanese comics. Most of my students are Cartoon and Digital Content majors, but a handful are animation majors and there might be a fashion design major hidden in there somewhere. A lot of the students want to go into video game design because it’s good pay.  Some of my English students, at my second job, work as computer game content designers and they all seem to be well paid and happy. Happier than the businessmen I teach anyway.

Schulz Blog: How do your students relate or differ to CCS students?

Kevin: They’re very similar to CCSers in their love of comics and animation, but their backgrounds and goals differ a little. As I mentioned, a lot of the SMU students want to go into the computer game industry, so I think they’re more like Joe Kubert School students, who are maybe a little more focused on creating a product  for a company. Where I think CCSers are more into creating and self publishing their own work. And I think that’s more because there is no real independent scene here. Honestly, I haven’t spent enough time with my students to know their goals yet.

Another difference, and this is more of an observation of Korea as a whole and not my students, is that a lot of high school kids go to cram schools before entering college. So, I’m sure most of the kids in my class have mastered the fundamentals of comics before attending university.  A lot of students are producing professional-level work as 18-year olds. College is more of a finishing school for them, and kind of another ticket to be punched before getting a job.   

The Schulz Blog: In a sentence or two, could you sum up the cartooning program at Sangmyung University?

Kevin: Big! There are about 300 students in the four-year program, so it’s roughly 15 times bigger than CCS. But, the relationships between professors and students are close.

Thanks, Kevin, and good luck!

– Robyn Chapman

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Making Make

I recently worked with seven cartoonists (three of them CCS alumni) to create a new comics anthology titled Make: Comics About an Intimate Act.  The intimate act is, well, pooping.  That one detail aside, this is one classy book.  Look for it soon at the Schulz Library.

Below I’ve chronicled each step of Make’s production and included a lot of handy tips about self-publishing. I really dorked out on all the production details.   Read on, if you’re into that sort of thing.  Or you might want to skim and look at the pictures.

Make’s cover, brilliantly designed by José-Luis Olivares, is a 3-color screenprint (blue, brown and pink – printed in that order).  It was a pretty easy print job (the registration didn’t need to be tight).   Especially the pink screen–the freckles just had to land on the butt. 

I was really happy that the texture of Jose’s line (originally drawn in China marker) came through in the print.  The trick is printing with a high mesh count screen (230, in this case).

Rather than use cardstock for the cover, I used legal-size file folders, cut in half and trimmed down. I like the color of file folders, and I was able to find three boxes for cheap.  I’m not sure I’d recommend this method, though.   Even with access to CCS’s fancy industrial paper cutter, the cut was imperfect.  The resulting stack of paper was not perfectly sized, so the registration was off at times.  With tighter registration jobs, I recommend buying real cardstock, which is perfectly cut at the factory.

It can be difficult to find cardstock in a variety of colors larger than 8.5″ x 11″.  The best place to go is French Paper.  They have a great variety of paper sized at 12.5″ x 19″.  Their paper is pricey, but the quality is high.  Contact them and request a swatch book to insure you order the right color, texture and weight.

Paperworks is also a good source for legal- and  tabloid-size cardstock.  However, it can be tricky to judge the color, texture and weight based on their website. 

Now, let’s open her up!

 

On the reserve side of the screenprint is the amazing inner cover by Maris Wicks.  This is a photocopy–screenprinting this sort of detail would be extremely difficult, if not outright impossible.  Choose your battles, my friend.

Maris used halftones here.  To avoid moiré patterns, print images like this at size.  To be honest, I think I did re-size this a little.  If there is a slight moiré, it wasn’t very noticeable.

A heavy layer of toner is on this cardstock, and it doesn’t adhere well.  After printing the inner cover, I spayed each one with workable fixative.  I think this helped preserve the print.  It’s not a prefect fix–toner will come off if you rub it aggressively.

You’ll notice that the inner cover is a foldout, with the book nestled inside.  The left hand (verso) cover is 4.5″ wide; the right hand (recto) cover 8.5″ wide.  With a one-sided French fold, the covers are symmetrical when the book is folded and closed.

Here’s the inner spread, by the remarkable Jason Martin.  Jason’s piece has a 2-page spread, so I placed it in the middle of the book and built around it.  It was a bit of a challenge, but I think the book is well-balanced.  Joe Lambert’s comic has some great page-turns. I was able to keep those.

As an editor, I  consider a story’s content and visual style when placing it in the book.  You don’t want one portion of the book to be too heavy with auto-bio, for example.  Regarding style, I just put pages next to one another and decide what looks good.

You might have noticed this book is pretty thick: 80 pages, to be exact.  I was able to bind it with a standard longarm stapler, but I was pushing it.  Much thicker and I would need a heavy-duty saddle stapler.  CCS has such a beast: the Skebbra W-115.  I challenge you to find a better manual saddle stitch stapler.  Such quality comes at a price (around $170).

The endpaper is made of Chocolate Brown text paper from Jam Paper.  Jam Paper has quality and selection, but they are unreasonably pricey.

The interior paper is Ivory text.  I rarely print on white.  Ivory is so classy, and it goes with everything!

I printed the interiors at SaveMor in Brooklyn, and I’m pleased with the quality and the price.  To avoid any loss of line quality, I disabled compression when outputting my InDesign file to a PDF.  It made the file huge (about 300 megs) but it’s worth it.  SaveMor only grumbled slightly.

Last but not least, the final page.  This concept comes from the talented Melissa Mendes.  Melissa gave these body templates to friends, and asked them to draw their insides.  The results were very unique and personal.  Melissa published them in a zine titled Guts.  It’s one of my favorites.

The body template is simply printed 6-up on white cardstock, then trimmed.  The pocket is made from an envelope with the flap cut off, and adhered with double-sided tape.  These small, square, Kraft paper envelopes came from Jam Paper.  They’re pretty expensive, so I was tempted to use library pockets instead.  But I really like their look and their size.

All these little details add up in cost (and double in labor) so the book retails at $7.00.  But that covers production cost (even at wholesale).  And it falls within a pricing rule I’ve heard from two great cartoonists: Alec Longstreth and Jon Lewis.  For every page of your comic, charge $.10 .

There you have it!  Make, cover to cover.  I hope I haven’t drained all the magic from it.  The book is a lot prettier in person.

– Robyn Chapman

Fantagraphics Ain’t Throwing Just Peanuts

A box arrived at the Schulz Graphic Novel Library with a dizzying amount of books, so heavy that I blacked out and began to see dazzling images.

And then it all started to come into focus…

It was PEANUTS! Charles Schulz, the man our illustrious library is named after, is still garnering a space in our hearts AND bookshelves. Fantagraphics has almost finished printing the entire, complete Peanuts collection. These wonderful tomes filled that heavy box.

As you can see, even the box of books came with some ‘peanuts.’ Our shelf dedicated to the man and books is slowly spilling over in abudance. If you have yet to check out these beautiful books, with Seth as the designer, then you have yet to truly live.

Jen Vaughn

P.S. Let’s just call those flat things ‘momes’ from now on for good measure.

CCS at SPX: The One Sheet Workshop

Since we opened our doors in 2005, CCS has made the annual trek to Bethesda for one of our favorite conventions: The Small Press Expo.  This year we offered a 1-hour session on self-publishing called the One Sheet Workshop.  In only 30 minutes, over a hundred participants drew, folded, and bound their own 8-page comic.  Their only materials were a pencil and a single sheet of paper.  Sound like magic?  It is, and we’ll show you the trick!

First, Alec Longstreth shared his top 10 tips for self-publishing.  

Then, Jon Chad walked us, step-by-step, through the process of making a Hidden Book.  

The Hidden Book format is produced from a single sheet of paper–no trimming or binding is required.  How is this possible?  We asked book-binding guru Beth Hetland to illustrate a how-to.  Here are the basic steps from her handout.


There you go!  Lie it flat and slap it on a photocopier.  Now you’re self-publishing!

– Robyn Chapman

Softball Sunday!

New Student Orientation at the Center for Cartoon Studies took place this past weekend and we could not be more excited for a whole new class (herd? murder? panel?) of cartoonists.

Aside from learning how to not cut your hands off with our giant paper cutter and how to properly pay for color copies, students both new and returning were asked to join in on the alum-sponsored softball game. (Jon Chad is at bat while Michelle Ollie pitches to Andy Christensen).

School founders James Sturm and Michelle Ollie both have backgrounds in baseball and softball so logically, they headed up the two teams, the Nancys vs. the Little Lulus. (Below, Sturm aggressively stands at the sidelines as third base coach while Nomi Kane and Randall Drew ready themselves for a whopper.)

The game was pretty loose, batting through entire line-ups but that didn’t mean the cartoonists didn’t BRING IT. With a bunch of home runs, line drives and even a double-play, we proved we can play betwixt all sorts of lines, be they panels or the foul lines. (Below, Nate Wootters is about to tag out Brandon Elston, Melanie Gillman watches)

As supreme thanks for all that they do for the cartooning community we gave James the Game Ball and Michelle the Official CCS Batting Helmet complete with student work stickers (more to come!)

The only thing left to do is invite the Kubert School out for some softball and corn dogs. So how about it, guys, are you game?

-Jen Vaughn