SMFA Week 3 review

The illustrator in me, Sal, and the writer in me, Sol, had a very difficult meeting with the Director (also me) today. We were all 2 days behind schedule, due to the Director getting distracted last week with ideas about a portfolio website, which ended up confusing Sol on her priorities. {Note: I’ve decided that Sal is male, and Sol is female. I think this has something to do with my animus balancing me out but who really knows.}

Ultimately we decided that the distraction was worth the lesson. More in a second, on that.

If this is a Self-MFA program, than it has to be at least equivalent, if not better, than a certified program from a university. The materials to be studied and the projects to complete must not only lend themselves to mastering in an art form, but also to acquiring work in the real world. That’s the whole point and reasoning behind the SMFA. To get really good at something, beyond just the looks of it, but also into the theory of it. 

Most traditional MFA programs have the added bonus of peer support and making connections to people who can open doors. So, in replacement of that, we decided that we need a DeviantArt account, and we need to get to more Cons. We also need a completely new portfolio website that has only sequential art (which we can print and bring to ComicCons for review and critique).

The distraction I mentioned earlier, happened because I listened to a Gutter Talk podcast by the folks over at Making Comics. Scott Mccloud was the guest on the episode, and he talked about starting SLOW. How, when we know we want to work in comics, we want to jump in and do our epic 200-page graphic novel right off the bat. (Shit!) Considering that he just accomplished his first creator-owned graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated, and it took him FIVE YEARS (its almost 500 pages!), I listened intently. He suggested trying a ONE PAGE comic. Start there. And then a two-page, and four-page, and so on, doubling each time. 

So, were implementing that exercise into our curriculum. (And at some point if anyone ever ends up reading this, I’m going to look like a lunatic, having split myself up into 3 people in order to make this work. Is the Director even a person? Who knows.)

For the next 7 weeks, this is the lineup of comic shorts for Sol to write and for Sal to illustrate:

Next week: Create a 1-page comic.

2nd week: Create a 2-page comic.

3rd and 4th weeks: Create a 4-page comic.

5th, 6th and 7th weeks: Create an 8-page comic.

In the 8th week, the Director is going to post the best pages out of those works online, and create an entirely new portfolio site. Currently the website is a graveyard of past accomplishments and fine art, but nothing relating to sequential art or comics. It’s going to get a makeover in the week of July 16 - July 22. (Our week now starts on Wednesday, humpday.)

The week of July 23rd, we’re taking a vacation, dammit. We will need it for what comes next.

By August 1st, Sol will begin writing a 22-page minicomic. By October 1st, Sal will have completed illustrating that comic. It may be a series of short stories, or it may be a serialized version of the intro to the graphic novel. To be determined later. Printing will be done by Oct 7th, if possible, in the case that I get my ass to NYCC for portfolio reviews. By Oct 24th the prints must be done, to be ready for distribution at ACE: Asheville Comic Expo. ACE was founded and is organized by Comic Envy, an awesome local comic shop here.

All the while, Sol is to be continuing the outlining of the graphic novel. She came up with her method of timelining the story and keeping organized in a visual diagram, to serve as a compass along the path of filling in the gaps. We decided that for our own good, we had better not try to combine a webcomic with a graphic novel. We’re sticking with the three-part structure, contained in one book. 

Due for next week:

Sol: Read Ch 2, Ch 3 in Mastering Comics. Write a 1-page comic.

Sal: Read Ch 4, Ch 5 in Mastering Comics. Draw the 1-page comic.