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