Back To School – Making Comic Books: A Guide To Canadian Education Opportunities

It’s that time of year again. The long days of summer slowly fade and thoughts turn to school. For those thinking of a Canadian education focused on making comic books, here are just a few of the many institutions and courses for consideration.

Alberta University of the Arts, Calgary, Alberta
Comics Minor (COMC)
“Comics, as an area of study is, at its core, the study of narration through images in sequence, typically but not always in combination with words. Fundamentally interdisciplinary, it has many points of contact with Animation, Film, Print, Media Art, Popular Culture Studies and English but is clearly distinct from all of these areas. It is a form, the content of which can vary widely across historical eras and cultures and which, in recent years, has seen applications in fields as diverse as journalism, law, medicine, and archaeology.”

CAMUSUN College, Victoria, British Columbia
Comics and Graphic Novels Certificate
“This unique program teaches the language of visual storytelling, and focuses on skills-based training for careers in comic books, comic strips, web comics, graphic novels, storyboards, and edutainment comics, created for print and online.”

Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario
COMS 3110 – Comic Books and Graphic Novels
“The history, political economy, and culture of comics as a distinct medium of communication, and the relationship between comic book publishing and other cultural industries.”

George Vanier Secondary School, Courtenay, British Columbia
Graphic Novel and Comic Illustration 11
“This course is for students interested in exploring art making through the lens of comics. Students will engage in the creation of print-ready comics, cartoons and graphic novels. Areas of study will include anatomy, layout, character and environmental design and narrative illustration. Students will employ a variety of two-dimensional media to explore the production pipeline from penciling through inking and color and on to final production. This rigorous course is intended for students with a background in art and illustration who are self-motivated and able to work independently toward hard deadlines.”

Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
ENGL 2010 FA/FDE – Special Topics: Marvel Superheroes
“An overview of Marvel superhero comics from the foundations in the 1960s through to the controversial “Secret Empire” event, in which Captain America stages a fascist takeover of America. Superheroes and teams will range from the central to the marginal, and will include Spider-man, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Daredevil, Echo, Mockingbird and Squirrel Girl. We will study the formal conventions and cultural importance of superhero comics, the innovations made by specific Marvel creators, the role of “Marvel” as a corporate author, and the controversies and issues raised by over half a century of continuity and retroactive continuity.”

Max the Mutt, Toronto, Ontario
Illustration & Storytelling for Sequential Arts (ISSA)
“Are you interested in becoming a talented Illustrator, where you will create artwork for various companies or industries? Max the Mutt’s 4-year Illustration & Storytelling Sequential Arts program will provide you with the skills, hands-on training, and career support you need to begin a career as an Illustrator upon graduation.”

Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
3843 Introduction to Comics
“This course will familiarize students with the study of comics. This course will examine a large selection of comics and current theoretical debates surrounding the relation between word and image, in general, and the workings of graphic narrative, in particular.”

Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta
ENGL 2294 – Comics as Literature
“This course examines the comic book as modern folktale, told in words and pictures, and as mass market literature, shaped by contemporary events, audience response, and the economics of its production. It will also look at the comic in terms of its relationships with television, film, and the graphic novel.”

OCAD School of Continuing Studies, Toronto, Ontario
CSLW-N111 – Comics and Graphic Novels Studio
“In this interdisciplinary workshop series for writers, artists, and designers, students will experiment with the comic medium as they explore the interplay between image and text, form and content. Drawing cues from historical and contemporary examples of textual/graphic work, students will conceptualize comic projects in various forms, constructing compelling narratives through dialogue and visual representations. By the end of the series students should have produced short and longer form comics or graphic works.”

Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Ontario
CMN 390 – Communicating with Comics
“As well as being artifacts of popular culture, comics are powerful tools for education, political persuasion, exploration of personal identity, and medical narrative. Iconic graphic communication can overcome linguistic and emotional barriers, as well as audience demographics. After establishing a foundation in comic book theories and visual rhetoric, this course will critically discuss examples with varying communicative intentions and narrative functions. Students create their own comic script and pages.”

Trent University
CUST-MDST 3580H: Text and Image
“Considers the relationship between word and image in a range of media objects, including comics, graphic novels, visual essays, graffiti, novels, paintings, and cinema. Also engages the long philosophical tradition of thinking about the relationship between seeable and sayable in such thinkers as Horace, Gotthold, Lessing, Freud, and Foucault.”

University of Toronto (Faculty of Arts and Sciences), Toronto, Ontario
ENG235H1: The Graphic Novel
“An introduction to book-length sequential art, this course includes fictional and nonfictional comics, with a focus on formal properties such as narrative layout and text/art hybridity. Themes vary but may include superheroes; auto/biography; the figure of the outsider; women in comics; alienation and youth; and war reporting.”

Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, British Columbia
ENGL 231: Speculative Literature
“This course is an exploration of how the genre of science fiction developed from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Beginning with the “scientific romance” of H. G. Wells and stories from mass market publications, we will focus on how “science fiction” emerges as a genre in the first part of the twentieth century. Following this, we’ll look at how it reflects historical and cultural contexts during the so-called Golden Age, the “New Wave” of the sixties and seventies, and more recently.”

York University, Toronto, Ontario
AP/EN 2176 3.00: Comics and Cartoons I
“From the Yellow Kid to Captain America (1900-Cold War) this course explores the growth of comics and cartoons: creative conflicts, contexts and themes (outsiders, war, ethnicity), Bugs Bunny, Superman, superheroes and Disney, and how they account for their times.”

Feel free to contact me at about a course that you found so it can be added to the list. Others might find it equally helpful. Happy studying!

Leave a Reply