Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Release Party!

For the last day of the class we all met at the Comic Shop, Fairbank's mecca for cartoonists. A few former students even showed up for the traditional unveiling of the annual comic book containing each student's 3+ page personal pieces along with the collaborative pages (including a couple examples of scripts and pencil stages). Also each of the advanced level students handed out copies of their own minicomics/'zines to everyone: these contained either compilations of their collected works from over the course (characters, gag & editorial panels, strips etc.), or if they were repeat advanced, a minimum 12-page piece. We all got an armload of material, and a few folks that were never aware of the Comic Shop's existence got exposed to a local resource.

I sat like an expectant father at the copy shop formatting and proofing the printing of all the jobs from about 8am until 1pm, when everything was finally finished. Thanks to the professional and patient help from an employee specifically dedicated to cranking out just my stuff I was blown away at the speed and quality of production - digital printing is where it's at! A couple dozen sets of each booklet were printed, mostly double-sided copies on tabloid paper with a cardstock cover, folded/stapled/trimmed, with a handful of color pages mixed in along with scans from the originals if the art wasn't in PDF format on disc. The sizable bill was accounted for in my budget by way of a $50 materials fee charged every student for the course, which also helps pay for the models and other miscellaneous supplies. Aside from being mementos the comic books all served as a grassroots example of publishing their pieces, and gave the advanced students something tangible to physically hand people, like a portfolio of sorts - a relatively inexpensive and easy way to promote one's work (not to mention dandy little gifts).

After that it was back to the classroom for the drawing student's final critique and a couple hours of grading portfolios until meeting up for the release party, and a well-deserved round of congratulations and final encouragements to keep up all the good work!
My simple goals over the course were to plant the seeds, add a little water, some fertilizer, judicious pruning, and hope something takes root. The way the class is structured together with the logistics of cramming everything in to six short weeks is almost impossible to do justice to - but pulling it off for the fifth year is an accomplishment borne out by seeing the evolution of a cartoon community in a far-flung location. At the very least everyone walks away with a fully informed or renewed sense of potential; having been introduced to not only the possibilities that exist but also draw inspiration from the peers that are out there right in our own town actually doing what they love - comics.

Everybody can and everybody should!

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