Master the serious art of storytelling, while studying the use of line, color, and composition, as well as character development, storyboarding, and plot.
Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
Comic art is a major offered in the four-year bachelor of fine arts degree program. Our BFA curriculum is rooted by the
Core Four curriculum—fundamental courses that are structured to enrich each student's professional development over four years. Course Descriptions
COM 2000 Introduction to Comics 3
Introduction to Comics is a balanced exploration of simple character development and sequential storytelling. Technical demonstrations and weekly assignments cover penciling, various inking techniques, coloring, and lettering and are focused on composition, style, space, storytelling, perspective, gesture, and mood. Lectures and presentations on various comic genres and artists, readings, and discussions of the creative process complement technical instruction.
Prerequisites: Foundation: 2D, Foundation: Drawing 1, Foundation: Drawing 2, Foundation: Media 1 (Foundation: Drawing 2 and Foundation: Media 1 may be taken concurrently)
AH 3657 History of Comic Art 3
Although comic art now includes a vast collection of different articulations of image and text, their shared history reflects an evolution from strictly pulp publications on cheap paper created by assembly line artists, to complex stories with exquisite images. This course will follow the history of comic art from the Yellow Kid to the latest issues. While the course is primarily lecture-driven, students are encouraged to share their own insights during class discussions about this truly American art form. There will be two written assignments in the course, as well as a final exam. Weekly online assignments are also required.
COM 3010 Comic Media and Concepts 3
This course is an exploration of comics as a storytelling art form. Emphasis is placed on storytelling concepts and advanced technical and media skills. Projects include story and fable adaptation for use in mainstream and art comics as well as educational and documentary formats. To accomplish this goal, students use research, storyboarding, writing, critique, and revision to foster good practice and the foundation for a personal voice.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Comics
COM 3050 Comic Book Publishing: Print and Web 3
This course is designed to prepare students for the expectations and rigors of the production and promotion of a comic book in print or on the Web. Working on self-directed projects, each student becomes his/her own publisher. The course will be divided into three sections mirroring the production process: design and preparation, production, and launch. Technical and process demonstrations cover scanning, prepress procedures, printing, and marketing collateral. The intent of the course is to provide each student with the skills necessary to give a project the greatest impact once completed and published. Lectures and demonstrations, studio visits, field trips, readings, and research will be used to direct the students through the process.
Prerequisites: Comic Media and Concepts
COM 3040 Experimental Comics 3
The goal of this course is to expand the storytelling range of students. Stripped of dialogue, students learn ways in which images can tell a full story independent of the written word, through tone, pace, time, and implied dialogue. This course includes discussions of important contemporary comic professionals who are pushing the boundaries of comic narrative, including Chris Ware, Matt Madden, and the Oubapo group. As the semester progresses, students work from their own story ideas and develop them further through individual and group critiques. Lectures and presentations on experimental comics, short exercises, individual and group critiques, readings, and discussions are used to help students work toward self-direction and a strong use of process.
Prerequisites: Comic Media and Concepts
DRPT 3020 Drawing: Figure 3
This course combines life drawing with an in-depth study of figurative structure, including skeletal and muscular anatomy. Students will develop figure drawing skills and an understanding of the movement of the figure in space. The course also explores drawing from imagination, narrative, and sequencing images. Students draw from nude and clothed models. Slide lectures, technical demonstrations, and anatomical lectures and texts support course material.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Drawing 2
COM 3070 Comic Storytelling 3
This course develops a student’s personal voice through experimentation, critical analysis, and advanced storytelling. Emphasis is spaced on written text and its relationship with the comic image. Students deconstruct and adapt short stories before working from their own story ideas. A study of comic professionals’ work, such as Kurt Busiek’s dual narrative devices, Frank Miller’s minimalist iconic storytelling, and Jack Kirby’s dynamically driven three-act structures supplement the topics discussed in the course.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Comics, Comic Media and Concepts (Comic Media and Concepts may be taken concurrently)
MA 4000 Professional Practice 3
The primary focus of this class is to provide Media Arts students with the tools that will enable to enter professional practice immediately following graduation. Each student is required to produce a polished résumé, artist statement, website, professional identity system, and portfolio. Topics include long-range goal creation and planning; financial, legal, and other business considerations; grant writing; and communication and marketing skills involving verbal, written, and visual presentations. Topics are presented through lectures, critiques, and presentations by experts in the field.
Prerequisites: Junior standing
COM 4010 Internship 3
Internships provide an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in a particular career area and valuable on-the-job skills. Internships may be arranged by the Director of Career Services or initiated by students. All internships must be pre-approved through the Career Services Office. For an internship to be approved, a mentor relationship and learning experience should exist beyond a simple employment opportunity. Three-credit internships require working 135 hours at the internship site and keeping a journal of hours and activities.
Prerequisites: Professional Practice
COM 5010 Advanced Comic Art Seminar 3
This course continues and concentrates on the issues and development of a unique comic voice. Students develop topics or themes into a full comic narrative working within the mainstream, art comic, educational comic, and documentary comic fields. Projects could include a ten- to twenty-page comic adaptation of a Greek fable, oral history, or biography. Critical input from the instructor and fellow students helps guide the projects toward completion, allowing for a developed and mature narrative assignment. Lectures, visual presentations, readings, and in-depth study of comic professionals such Will Eisner, Kurt Busiek, Chris Ware, and Frank Miller supplement the topics discussed within this course.
Prerequisites: successful Junior Review, Senior standing
COM 5100 Senior Project 6
Senior Project is a semester-long project developed by an individual student in consultation with a faculty member. Starting from a research project, an in-depth comic art problem, or a concentration on the development of a particular strength, genre, or need, students create a story of approximately 14 fully realized and professionally developed pages. Students are required to develop an appropriate proposal, timeline, and goals and refine these in consultation with an outside mentor and appropriate MCAD staff. Presentations to the class and the greater MCAD community, proposal writing, research, and group discussions are important components of this course.
Prerequisites: successful Junior Review, Senior standing
Select One: 3 COM 3020 The Comic Scene 3
This course focuses on the two-dimensional depiction of an environment or landscape comic format. Starting with the creation of a unique pictorial space, students explore the figure within these spaces to create a narrative visual flow. Landscape detailing and lighting are examined to create a sense of mood. Students explore one- to three-point perspectives, alternative perspective theories, and picture composition relationships and their relationship to narrative drive. Research into the work of Robert Crumb’s urban landscapes, Winsor McCay’s surreal dreamscapes, and Will Eisner’s staged atmospheric realism, as well as individual and group critiques, are used as part of the learning process.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Comics COM 3030 Comic Character Development 3
Students study various models of comic character creation, including realistic, heroic, exaggerated, and invented form. Additionally, students explore body expression, posture, facial expressions, and locomotion. Lectures and discussions cover historical comic and illustration artists, such as Milt Caniff, Andrew Loomis, and Frank Frazetta and contemporary artists, such as Mark Schultz, Darwyn Cooke, and Paul Pope. Weekly journals and mini-comic exercises are assigned to develop observational and invented figure drawing.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Comics COM 3060 Comic Materials and Techniques 3
This course focuses on pen and ink drawing used by comic artists and illustrators to capture the rich textural nature of their work. This course develops the basic principles of compositional decisions and strategies and the application of lighting, textures, values, and tone. Demonstrations of various tools and techniques are provided, from traditional pen and brush to Japanese tonal effects and current trends in digital finishing. Students work on professional comic pencil pages, their own penciled comic pages created specifically for this course, and on pen and ink observational drawings. Visual lectures, critiques, and research support technical work.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Comics
First-Year Studio Foundation 15 FDN 1111 Foundation: 2D 3
This course is an introduction to creative thinking that develops skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. There is an emphasis on learning new ways to read and see the world and how to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
FDN 1112 Foundation: 3D 3
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
FDN 1211 Foundation: Drawing 1 3
This course is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the College. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior spaces, and landscape.
FDN 1311 Foundation: Media 1 3
Students are introduced to the digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media and laptop computing. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, student servers, Media Center, and digital resources. Students discuss media and media artists as well as study various software applications including Adobe Photoshop and web-development tools.
FDN 1212 Foundation: Drawing 2 3
This course is an observationally based drawing course designed to reinforce and develop the basic drawing skills established in Foundation: Drawing 1. Students work with a variety of subjects, including a substantial amount of drawing from the figure. In addition to working from direct observation, students explore drawing as a tool for invention, conceptualization, and idea development. The course also affords students an opportunity to investigate drawing materials in more breadth and depth than in Foundation: Drawing 1.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Drawing 1
First-Year Liberal Arts Foundation 12 AH 1701 Introduction to Art and Design History 1 3
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, and historical trends in Western art history from prehistoric times through the nineteenth century. This course is designed to encourage a critical understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. The final section of this course deals with the emergence of modernity in art. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion. Students will take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.
AH 1702 Introduction to Art and Design History 2 3
This course introduces students to issues in contemporary cultural theory, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics include anti-aesthetic challenges to modernist aesthetics, the rise of consumerism, the proliferation of the designed object, and the transition from source-oriented media to user oriented media, among others. The course is a roughly equal mix of lecture and discussion. Students will produce short writing assignments and will complete written exams consisting of identification and essay questions.
EN 1100 Reading and Writing 1 3
Effective writing requires innovative thinking and creative engagement. Students in this course focus on building a writing portfolio by developing college-level writing skills and using these skills to produce a variety of assignments. Regular writing workshops will allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Assigned course materials will explore a variety of texts and objects. By the end of the course students will have the foundational skills to be reflective and eloquent writers. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, group work, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, directed group work and research assignments, and a portfolio of seven essays.
EN 1200 Reading and Writing 2 3
Key to the creative and critical nature of college-level writing is the idea that students explore a topic by developing a thesis that changes as they ask questions, explore ideas, and conduct research. To that end, this course extends and concentrates the thinking and communication skills introduced in Reading and Writing 1. The foci of this course are developing a thesis; engaging in critical and sustained research; and drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading a finished research project. As a result, students will become increasingly adept at utilizing a wide variety of research tools, from published books to online search engines. The final project will be a completed research paper and a visual presentation using programs such as PowerPoint. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, research exercises, presentations and debates, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, a research journal, a major research paper and a final research presentation.
Second-Year Studio Foundation 4 FDN 1411 Ideation and Process 3
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as the artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post-production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing FDN 1412 Sophomore Seminar: Contemporary Practice 1
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. This course is designed to introduce students to the variety, tools, and foundations of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create a professional presentation of their work as well as hear from guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing
vary Studio Electives 26
Comic Art majors take 26 elective studio credits in any media they choose.
Liberal Arts Electives
vary Liberal Arts Electives 24
Comic Art majors take liberal arts electives in the following distribution:
Art History (6 credits)
Scientific Perspectives (3 credits)
Economic and Mathematical Systems (3 credits)
Global Perspectives (3 credits)
Political Thought and Ethics (3 credits)
Creative and Professional Writing (3 credits)
Liberal Arts Capstone Course (3 credits)
On-site internships at organizations such as comic studios—both local and international—allow students to learn about the industry, enhance their skills, network, and build their portfolios. Previous students have interned at the following organizations, among many others:
2D Cloud Studio ▪ BOOM! Studios, California ▪ Boychild Productions, Japan ▪ Lucid Publishing, Texas ▪ Marvel Comics, New York ▪ Paper Bicycle ▪ Periscope Studio, Oregon ▪ Red Calaveras