The art of comics, it should now be clear, has advanced well beyond the likes of Bazooka Joe wrappers, Jack Chick tracts, and old back issues of Hot Stuff The Little Devil to become one of the most vital forms of expression of the 21st century. Comics adaptations, long a staple of motion pictures, are now beginning to dominate television (Arrow, The Flash) and even Broadway as well (Fun Home). In many respects, comic books are at the vanguard of popular culture and are thus worthy of serious scholarly attention. As of this writing, however, the California College Of The Arts is one of the very few academic institutions offering an MFA in comics. For those unwilling or unable to abandon their current lives and move to the Golden State in pursuit of comics knowledge, however, the CCA is generously offering a massive open online course entitled “Comics: Art In Relationships.” The program is free, and anyone can enroll.
This is not a purely theoretical exercise. “Art In Relationships” has a practical aspect as well. The CCA course is being aimed at aspiring comics artists, both at the beginner and intermediate levels, so students can actually apply what they’ve learned. Consisting of five sessions with instructor Matt Silady, the course will include information on creating scripts, thumbnails, and multi-panel grids, as well as “insights to help storytellers make the most of every page.” The idea here is not simply to deconstruct comics but to use the medium of comics to convey useful information and tell meaningful stories about characters. For those who want to do some advanced studying on their own, the CCA has a whole slew of comics-related lessons and lectures posted to its YouTube channel. Never has an education in sequential art been within such easy reach. Scott McCloud must be so proud right now.