The first assignment for the Summer Session "Cartoon & Comic Art" course is to develop a couple characters: this serves to double as both an opportunity for experimenting with various pen & ink techniques + gives us something to work with, adapt into and build upon over the upcoming critiques.
Along with front profiles, 3/4 and back views, and silhouettes of the two characters, students also come up with a sample environment setting and also include props. In addition, they show the characters with the six basic expressions. After this initial assignment it's immediately clear what a range of skill is in the class: although drawing ability is not a prerequisite, those who are comparatively weaker will pick up a lot of hints on basic drawing.
Another assumption which is usually born out is a perceptible improvement in skill after drawing every day for five-six weeks. And I constantly remind the class (and myself) how comparatively unimportant demonstrating amazing technical ability and craftsmanship is at this stage. I always provide examples of published work from creators with marginal (at best) rendering abilities, and it's arguable many of the top names in comics (syndicated) never took it upon themselves to learn basic drawing skills - but they never needed to. Some of the best talent to go through this particular class has been people with little or no technical ability, but their ideas, concepts and writing were in a league far above the rest. My experience at an art college reinforced my suspicion that being a good artist really isn't a big deal, it isn't very special and not all that hard to be. There are literally thousands upon thousands of individuals far more talented than I'll ever hope to be - but the discerning edge is discipline and drive, consistency and output. In this way the Cartoon & Comic Art course is no different than Beginning Drawing: what's fundamental is the attributes of a good student more than a good artist, ie attendance, doing the work, turning in assignments etc.- showing up is sometimes half the challenge.
“Grant me some wild expressions, Heavens, or I shall burst.” - George Farquhar