13th Dimension teams up with another free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to enrich the comics experience!
By KEVIN CULLEN
Comic creators rejoice! Coming this Sunday to the Internet near you is Making Comics (dotCom)’s first official MOOC, titled, “Get A Grasp! A Primer Course For Getting Your Comic Started.”
Created and designed by Making Comics CEO Patrick Yurick, the free, four-week course will cover everything you need to pick your comic idea up off the ground and get it running – focusing on the organization of ideas surrounding comic creation.
From developing elevator pitches to establishing the world of your story, Get A Grasp! will feature lessons from well-established comic creators like Mark Waid and Jim Zub and will challenge students with exciting weekly assignments (some of which will be spotlighted in this weekly article series, presented by 13th Dimension!).
To give you a taste of what to expect, I spoke with course designer Patrick Yurick about how the MOOC works and what he’s got lined up for those ready to begin their comic-making adventure.
Kevin Cullen: I’ve got an awesome idea for a comic! How is your MOOC going to help me bring it to life?
Patrick Yurick: After talking to quite a few industry professionals and master comic makers we have determined that there is quite a bit of work that needs to go into planning a comic project before you start it.
We have two main kinds of comic book creators that we created this course for. The first is the independent, creator-owned, comic book creator. The second is the creator planning a comic that they want to potentially pitch to an established publisher. There are a lot of crossovers in the two different approaches to planning a comic and this course will touch on both the needs and the benefits of both in hopes that students will learn how to create comics in the process of studying both.
During the first week we will be talking about pitching your comic and how the entire story needs to be thematically boiled down to a single sentence before it can be a novel. The second week we will look at finding reference imagery for your world and creating a map of the places the characters in your story will be inhabiting. The third week we will be looking at how to look at the overall goals of the process and how to create a plan for completion that is comfortable and doable.
The last week students will create their final pitch and present it via YouTube video to the rest of the class. It is at that time that other students will critique your work.
Part of what we are doing in our partnership with 13th Dimension is having experts look at the work each week. If your pitch is done well, we will have professionals looking at as well and picking their favorites to be showcased on 13th Dimension.
Am I going to be graded? I still have nightmares about my college art courses…
Firstly, you have to know that you don’t need to know how to draw to take this course. We like artists, but understand that not everyone is as comfortable with their drawing skills as others. That being said, there will be drawing within the course but the emphasis will be on using drawings for communications. (Stick figures are great!)
I hate grades too! The whole reason I left the public-school classroom to pursue alternative education, such as this MOOC, was because I hate the whole concept behind grading. Grading is a substitute for commerce rewards generated by the school system that get in the way of what they were designed to do: motivate students towards success.
It is my belief that humans, when given support and real opportunities, are intrinsically motivated towards success. This is what the “Get A Grasp!” MOOC is all about. We won’t turn you away from the knowledge and content of the course, and the benefits of taking it, because you aren’t the right age, have enough money, or aren’t on time to class. In fact no one will ever kick you out of class. This is a voluntary course.
You will lose out on the opportunities we present to you if you do not bring your passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to your work to class. Passion, enthusiasm, and dedication are transparent to everyone around you when you are working and if you bring that to class it will shine in your work. When it does shine your work will stand a greater chance at succeeding.
Why are you doing this? This seems like an awful lot of work to be doing for free…There’s got to be a catch.
Well we do have some timeshare property in Florida we would like you to take a look at … Ha! There is no catch!
I formed MakingComics.com, with my team, because I truly believe that the art industry needs to provide free resources to the world in order to ensure its long-term success. I spent the last five years working in a Title 1 public charter school, High Tech High Chula Vista, where I saw a plethora of low-income students from Mexico and the United States struggle to have basic access to tools that I grew up taking for granted. Students that I worked with had a belief that First World countries perpetuate to the Third World: that they cannot achieve great work without money.
There is no reason for this. The greatest achievements in art and creative ingenuity have a long history of happening amongst those with the most disadvantages. This is 2014. The Internet is here and it is a tool for social reform. MakingComics.com and “Get A Grasp!” MOOC are tools to help in the social movement towards a better tomorrow. Knowledge should be free.
We are comic artists that believe this and that is why we are doing it. This approach to learning has been done in other areas: Wikipedia and CK-12 for academic information, Khan Academy for STEM-related topics, etc. The arts definitely have a hard time with this. MakingComics.com is a step in the freedom of art and the study of art to the world.
For more information on the course, check out the list of guest panelists below as well as the Get A Grasp! Syllabus. And be sure to check back here at 13th Dimension every Friday for a new Making Comics MOOC article, where we’ll be featuring exclusive artist interviews and panelist responses to their favorite student assignments from that week. Who knows, maybe your Twitter pitch will end up on the front page!
Kevin Cullen is head of content development at Making Comics (dotCOM).