Saanich-based comic book artist Ken Steacy in his studio

Camosun appeals to aspiring comic artists

Comics and graphic novels program begins in the fall

Before Ken Steacy was honoured for his lifetime of achievement in the comic book industry, he was just a guy with a pathological need to draw.

The co-creator of a newly developed comic and graphic novels certificate program at Camosun College, Steacy says the budding artists he meets have that same drive to tell stories – though everything else about the creation of comics has changed.

“I was like that,” Steacy said. “I would get really nervous if I didn’t have a pencil in my hand and a pad of paper to draw on.”

Since first creating fan ’zines in the 1970s, Steacy has written and illustrated the escapades of Astro Boy, Harry Potter, Batman, Ultraman, Spider-Man and The X-Men. His collaborators include the likes of George Lucas, Douglas Coupland and his wife Joan Steacy, a visual artist and author/illustrator of graphic novels.

The couple, who have lived in Greater Victoria since 1987, co-created the program to fill a void in comic arts training on the West Coast and to offer opportunities that weren’t available while they were embarking on their own careers.

“Everything has changed since we got into the industry,” Steacy said. “You had to live and work in New York City. Comics were distributed through a very archaic and wasteful distribution system. That has been changing and evolving over time. This is such a wonderful time to be here.”

The eight-month program follows the success of a single visual storytelling course the Steacys taught last October through the college’s continuing education department.

While the comic book industry remains robust despite the economy, Steacy said, the course is aimed at students who wish to work in graphic novels, web comics, comic strips, “edutainment” comics and storyboards for film, television and video games. It covers technique and life drawing, as well as printing, publishing and promotion. Students will also take part in a festival to showcase their work at the end of the program.

The writing component of the class will be taught by Camosun creative writing instructors.

“These aren’t just illustrated stories. It really is a way of making words and pictures work together to make that wonderful synergy where one-plus-one equals three.”

The eight-month program will cost students $9,166 in tuition and fees.

As of Monday, the course was nearly at capacity.

For aspiring artists who won’t be among the 16 registered for the fall, Steacy suggests they follow his lead and hold onto their pencils.

“Draw. Draw all the time. Never stop drawing. … Draw for the absolute love of drawing.”

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Life on the page

Part two of Joan Steacy’s four-part autobiographic novel, Aurora Borealice will debut at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2012 next month (May 5 to 6). The series inspired Ken Steacy to create his own autobiographic novel, currently in development. n Tentatively titled T-Bird, the narrative draws on his own experience in a military family through the fictionalized characters of a retired air force pilot and his son as the two rebuild their relationship.

Cutting communications for comics?

Camosun College’s announcement of the new comic arts program mere weeks after suspending the popular applied communications program may raise a few eyebrows, but it’s not fair to compare the two offerings, said a spokesperson for the college.

The comics and graphic novel certificate program is considered an entrepreneurial activity and does not fall under the school’s base budget. The popular media generalist applied communication program did.

The “top dollar” tuition of the comic arts program goes beyond covering costs and is intended to generate revenue, similar to the college’s international student enrolment, spokesperson Joan Yates said.

“It’s a ‘let’s see if it’ll fly and make us some money’ type of program, quite frankly,” she said.

While she could not confirm how profit the program is expected to generate, the average for other money-making classes is between 18 to 22 per cent profit.

Just Posted

Deadline looming for youth transitional housing

Province says funding for 10 units not available at this time

Greater Victoria Public Library announces new music streaming service

Victoria Conservatory of Music to perform at Langford Heritage Branch on Saturday

Crews respond to homeless camp fire in View Royal

View Royal, Saanich and Colwood responding to two separate incidents on the Trans-Canada Highway

Harbour Authority signs up for green bus fleet

Agreement signed for 10-year partnership with new company

“This is not a drill:” test tsunami alarm sparks panic at elementary school

CFB Esquimalt issued apology for broadcasting wrong message

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

JOCK TALK: Canada’s national cycling team is at Bear Mountain this weekend

Your weekly round up of all things sports on the West Shore

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

Having a Happy Halloween at Galey Farms

Galey Farms has become synonymous with Halloween on the Saanich Peninsula. The… Continue reading

B.C. woman plagued by bedbugs on airplane not surprising, says expert

Heather Szilagyi was on a British Airways flight when she noticed bedbugs crawling out of the seat

Most Read