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Joe Kubert School of Art and Cartooning


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Hola, ADCers. I was thinking about attempting to go to the Joe Kubert School of Art, and wanted to know if its worth the time and money. Does anybody have any experience with the school? Is their faculty that much better than an art college? Would someone be better off getting a degree in illustration over a diploma from the JK school? I mean, I'd love to work in the comic industry and just wanted to know the best way to get trained for it.


Thanks in advance.

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Hola, ADCers. I was thinking about attempting to go to the Joe Kubert School of Art, and wanted to know if its worth the time and money. Does anybody have any experience with the school? Is their faculty that much better than an art college? Would someone be better off getting a degree in illustration over a diploma from the JK school? I mean, I'd love to work in the comic industry and just wanted to know the best way to get trained for it.


Thanks in advance.


Never been there myself, but I have had extensive conversations with colleagues and students of mine that have attended the school.


My impressions are two fold:


One- Its THE place to school at for comics. Bar none. The immersion and expertise of many of the staff, plus the school's history make it the best place on the planet to learn how to create North American comics. The instructor pool tends to come from talent that have worked in the comics industry ( or animation etc) and many have many, many years of experience.

The staff there is MUCH more industry focussed that you will find at other art colleges, specific to the comics and animation fields--because thats the kind of people that Joe Kubert attracts.


Two- The other side of the coin is less attractive. I have heard, in the past, that the school can be somewhat frustrating and lax in some basic things. Sometimes instruction can be less than professional, , sometimes supplies are lacking, sometimes there's been a perception that the place is a cash-grab. Impressions of the schools founder, Joe Kubert vary from admiration to indifference to unfavourable. I have heard uncomplimentary things said about the school--as well as complimentary.



Now, that said--most of the folks I know of that went to the school say they benefitted from it. Some dropped out part way through and completed their training elsewhere, others took the whole program. All the people I know that were in the JK school are working pros now, either in Animation, or in Comics in some form.


The common thread amongst them is: what you bring to it, is what you get out of it. The more intensely focused the student is, the better their results will be.

Of course, that's the same with any program, anywhere.



On the degree/diploma issue..........its pretty simple: both are worthless if you lack the talent to gain employment in the biz. In fact, talent is really the sole arbiter of you gaining employment in the industry--a certificate of ANY kind just doesn't really come into play, except for prestige sake. If you've got developed skills, a diploma for Joe Kubert MIGHT give you just that extra cachet to get a foot in the door.

Likewise, if you have demonstratable skills, a art college degree can do the same thing.

You don't really need schooling to gain work in the field--though it can help. I've been in the animation field ( and have dabbled in comics) for over 21 years now and I'm self-taught.


If you are serious about this, my advice is plain: diversify. Learn animation, storyboarding, design, comics......and all the various sundry disciplines in between. Strive to become a "cartoonist", rather than specialize as a "comic book artist"--as you'll have more opportunities with the former.

The more skills you have facility with, the stronger your career options will be.


One more thing:

Comics right now, are what I'd classify as a "dirty" business.

Print numbers are down, page rates are lower now than they have been in years, and talent already on the books often have to struggle to keep those book on their drawing table month after month.

Its not an easy career anymore, certainly not like it was in the 90's where any kid with a pencil was doing comics. The "promise" of fame and fortune still draws lots of newcomers, but the biz only hold those things for the very top tier talent. Most people working in comics earn somewhat modest incomes and do other stuff on the side.

Small press endeavours are even riskier now than they once were, so starting out with a smaller book can be chancy. Trying out for the big publishers/studios is harder as well, as they garner most of the applying talent.....AND they have their pick of the best.


That's why I advise newcomers to keep animation in mind. Not animating per se, but pre-production tasks like design, storyboarding, layout etc. There's far more work in animation (its been my bread and butter for 21 years) and the work is nearly constant and varied.

Comics are more "sexy" and a bigger lure for newcomers, but they are exponentially harder to get into and last in.

Nowadays, if you really want to do comics, you can just do them on your own, albeit outside of the major publishers.

Web-comics and self-publishing are far easier and more affordable using your computer and internet, than by going the print route. You can have the "cake and eat it too" by working in other cartooning fields, and doing comics as a sideline.

Something to consider.

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I took some classes from there. They were correspondent classes.


Something Arrow said that I will agree with was the instructions were messed up. I never really knew what to do. I would have questions but no way to get answers.If you have alot of artistic


talent already it is way easier.


I did learn alot but mainly it just helped me brush up on what I could already do.


There were alot of things that should have had alot more details given too. My biggest gripe was the lessons were not very clear.


I would rather be a self taught artist and just learn by drawing more and learn that way. Really, I find the best way to learn to draw is just practice, draw alot/often and draw anything and everything from any and all angles.

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Being self-taught has a lot going for it, but it has one major drawback: it takes longer.


You literally have to "re-invent the wheel" as far as covering ground in artistic disciplines.

This is why schooling helps--if you can get it and get the RIGHT schooling--because it shortens that time by getting you specific answers that can represent breakthroughs in technique.


I've found that in my own self-education, I reached various plateaus of ability that represented real advances for me.

One of the most disctinct was discovering the book How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, back in around 1975-ish. The idea of using a stick-man scribble to build a figure had never occurred to me before, but it really helped progress my drawing to what it is today.


Mind you, I've also have quite a few mentors on the job that guided me along as well.

Also, developing the acute skill of analysis has saved my career and drawing-neck more than once.

Being able to focus on getting answers from materials around me, discerning what MY drawing lacks and what the target image HAS is a tremendous help.


Something as simple as a line is where this starts.

Take a look at the lines on your drawing, look at them critically. Now, at the outset, you might not see "anything" simply because your eye might be untrained at this point, but......

Take a look at artwork that you would like you own work to look like.

What are the lines like on that drawing? do they have a thickness and thinness to them? Is it in certain places on the object drawn? look at other drawings by the same artist, then different artists--is their a pattern to how THEY are applying those thick and thin lines?

If so, then if you apply the same kind of line weight to your drawing, you show get similar results and looks. You've just dicsovered an artistic theory/rule regarding line-weights.

And.......after a while, you can extrapolate your interpretation of those lines to fit your own style.


This is how I educated myself--a long painstaking process. Even in school, you'll likely work the same way, though you might have a instructor that can answer some of these question readily.

Given all the materials available now in print and on-line, its prefectly feasible to learn on your own.

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I'm interested in doing comics too. The plan that sounds best to me is a sequential art BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design, it's an acredited program with a real degree, but it's basically a program that teaches you how to do comics, or storyboards (seeing as that is where the most job opportunities are).


I don't know much abort the Joe Kubert School, I don't know how much it costs, how much influence it gives, and how much instruction it gives, but I tend to stay away from weight loss pills, and the University of Phoenix. Something just screams scam about it.


Basically there is no kind of educational restrictions I know of with making comics, either they like your work or they don't. If a program like this can help your skill, go for it if you want, but if things don't work out anyway, then whatever certificate they give you is worthless in the real world.


Like I said, I have no idea what kind of money and time it takes, but I think you'd be better off with an actual degree, not so much for the comics business, but as a back up plan. If it's what you love it's what you love, and you should go for it. I think I'm going to, but it's a small business and only getting smaller, so don't bet all your chips on one hand.

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I've heard whispers out of Savannah, their programs tend to be quite good.

Storyboarding is the primary consideration here, as its got far more opportunities than comics, and I've been nicely supporting myself on 'boards for TV animation since 1990.

Good 'board artists are hard to find, its not an easy job to do properly and does require a lot of insight into a host of things.


The beauty of it is that it does share a kinship with comics, though they diverge apart pretty quickly.

In the storyboarding respect, a degree will probably help a bit more than it would with comics, because recruiter for the various studios and ad agencies would be more likely to gauge partly on that.

If you guys can, take animation classes as well, and take classes in FLASH or MAYA alongside.



Nothing beats good hand-skills though, solid appealing drawing is the cornerstone, the real currency of value in the biz.

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Joe Kubert's is expensive. I don't know that it's any MORE expensive than other places in the US, as Joe's was the only one outside of Canada I looked at when I was considering art as my direction, but it's certainly no cheaper than other places. In the end I chose to chase after journalism at a local college instead anyway...


It doesn't surprise me that the mail-in courses at Joe's were a bit of a letdown (whoever brought that up). If you're going to basically learn on your own, there are cheaper was to do it (buying books and absorbing info yourself to put into practice, or sitting in a coffee shop with a sketchpad and drawing the day away - free life drawing session). I'm of the opinion that if you're going to pay for schooling, it should be for a scenario where you have full access to your "instructors," otherwise there's very little added benefit to the extra money spent.

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