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Get to know The Center For Cartoon Studies In WRJ

Jun 22, 2022 07:50PM ● By Rose Terami

The Center for Cartoon Studies in downtown White River Junction is an educational center for budding visual storytellers. Through CCS programs, students can earn a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree as well as a certificate in cartooning. If you like to tell stories, draw, or create comics, CCS might be a good fit for you! Jarad Greene, the Administrative and Development Coordinator for CCS, answered some of our questions about what CCS offers, who is a good fit for CCS, and what to expect as a CCS student.

Question: What is the Center for Cartoon Studies? What education or programs does CCS offer? Do you have any upcoming summer programs?

Answer: The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) offers a two-year course of study that centers on the creation and dissemination of comics, graphic novels, and other manifestations of the visual narrative. Our programs include a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree, one- and two-year certificates in cartooning, and annual summer workshops. Experienced and internationally recognized cartoonists, writers, and designers teach classes.

We have a full line up of in-person summer workshops every year for kids, teens, and adults, and lately, we’ve been offering a select few workshops online during winter (January) and summer.

Q: Who is eligible to attend CCS?

A: CCS looks for well-rounded students who are committed to creating visual narratives. We want students who can think and will work hard. Limited drawing skills are OK if they are offset by a fearless commitment to putting images on paper. CCS welcomes comic and non-comic book geeks alike. We love art, English, history, philosophy, religion, and graphic design majors and those with a liberal arts background. For our main program, a high school diploma or GED is required. For MFA candidates, a completed Bachelor’s degree is required. Our workshops are open to all but have some age parameters, depending on the workshop.

Q: What are some learning objectives that are central to the CCS curriculum?

A: Our curriculum is very hands-on. Students don’t just learn theoretically how to make comics, each assignment is turned in as a physical object whose design and execution are just as important as the story inside. Our students learn by doing.

Q: What kinds of academic and creative interests does CCS cater to? Career-wise, who might benefit from enrolling in a CCS program?

A: Those interested in telling their own original stories in comic form. This can be anything from silly and fun fantastical adventures to deeply personal works of memoir and anything in between. Those looking for focused time and assignments to take their work to the next level would benefit from our program. We have students who are interested in creating and teaching their own workshops, those interested in working in publishing, those who want to be fully independent freelancers, and those who wish to be traditionally published in the book market.

Q: What is cartooning all about? How does it fit into the realm of storytelling, and how is it different from other forms of storytelling?

A: Cartooning is all about clarity. It’s about figuring out how to take a complex idea and distilling it in a way that is recognizable and clear to the reader. Cartooning in the form of comic-making is a type of storytelling where the words and pictures are equally important. While you could use either to tell a story, the result is greater than the sum of the parts.

Q: Who teaches CCS programs, and what are they like?

A: All of our classes and workshops are taught by highly esteemed working cartoonists, writers, and storytellers.

Q: Where is CCS located? When are you open?

A: CCS is located in the historic village of White River Junction, VT, in an area along the VT/NH border known as the Upper Valley. Our offices and classrooms are in the former Post Office building (46 S. Main) and the former Colodny Surprise Department Store (94 S. Main). We are always happy to schedule an admissions tour or let visitors browse the collection of the Schulz Library during the week. Email us [email protected] to coordinate a time.

Q: How much do your programs cost? Do you offer any kind of financial assistance for students?

A: Our main program is around $26k per year, and our 5-day summer workshops cost $1,050 per course. CCS partners with the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) to offer private educational loans. We offer a limited number of merit-based scholarships and bipoc scholarships annually.

Q: What should a prospective student know about CCS?

A: CCS is a small community in a rural part of Vermont. While we may not have all the accommodations of a big city, our program offers the time, space, and inspiration to help students level up their work without distractions.

Q: Can you describe the application process?

A: Our application process is very straightforward. We require a minimum two-page comic story starring yourself, a snowman, a robot, and a piece of fruit. Additionally, an essay, transcripts, CV, a letter of recommendation, and a portfolio with four samples of your best work. There is a $50 application fee. That’s it!

Q: In what ways is CCS involved in the surrounding community?

A: We frequently partner with other entities in our community for collaborations and partnerships, such as with Dartmouth College, U.S. Department of State, VA Medical Center, Slate, Vermont Humanities, VASS, Vermont Law School, JAG productions, Upper Valley Land Trust, SPARK!, Listen Center, Rio Blanco Social Club, Northern Stage, White River Indie Films, The Sharon Academy, VT Interfaith Power & Light, Upper Valley Music Center. Through our orientation and small first-year groups, we introduce our students to the different areas of the Upper Valley and beyond.

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