Cartooning certificate draws out artists in con-ed students

Harrison sees broad applications for cartooning skills. Photo: Karen Nickel/The Dialog

Cartooning professor and self-taught artist Anthony Harrison sees broad applications for cartooning skills.
Photo: Karen Nickel/The Dialog

Anthony Harrison currently teaches the Cartooning 1 course which has been running for the past 16 years at George Brown College (GBC). The course has slowly developed into a cartooning certificate program offered by continuing education today.

Harrison is a self-taught artist, “My love of art was initially, really, comics and cartoons. That’s what I started doing as a kid,” he said. “Drawing is a skill. It’s like learning anything else. It’s about lots of practise. The most important  thing is having the desire.”

Cartooning students come from a wide range of ages and experiences.

“I have students from age 18-70. They are doing the course for variety of reasons.” Harrison explained, “Some are already professionals having particular goals; some have professional aspirations to work in the field, while others are looking for more personal expression. I’ve had a lot of lawyers over the years.”

Asked what a certificate in cartooning can lead to career wise, Harrison said it’s all about the skill sets learned in the program.

“You’re not going to go on the ‘net and find a place for ’jobs for cartoonists‘, per se, but cartooning, as a discipline, relates to animation, agency work, children’s book illustrations and greeting cards,” said Harrison. “It’s building a broad skill set that has a variety of applications, from editorial, illustration and continuity, including storyboarding and comics.”

“Cartooning is the one specific visual design that could, theoretically, yield the most monetary rewards. You look at something like The Simpsons, Marvel comic characters and they’re all grossing a billion each per year. That’s all cartoon intellectual property that’s driving that,” said Harrison.

“A huge growth area, in terms of format and length is the graphic novel. It’s huge now. It’s becoming a real force in literary terms,” said Harrison who is working on his own graphic novel set in World War Two and the Canadian Force’s North West Europe campaign. “I met some of the guys who were in the Forces at the time. My account is based on actual events, but with composite characters.”

“I think there is an association by a lot of people that cartooning is very simplistic. But it’s just as technical as representational illustration,” said Harrision. “This program is very comprehensive and the range is key. It can be demanding, but you can go so far.”

Along with the three core cartooning courses, three electives are required. Harrison also teaches the life drawing for the illustrator elective. “It’s essential that a cartoonist has a real comprehensive grasp of the figure and be able to manipulate that figure within a space in a storytelling context,” said Harrison.

While speaking about the cartooning program, Harrison said he was thinking of adding more components, like the history of cartooning and the art of Japanese manga.

“The final essay topic: Mickey Mouse: shoes, shorts, no shirt. Donald Duck: hat, jacket, no pants. 1500 word essay. Discuss.” Harrison laughs, “How does this work? How does Mickey get service and Donald; how do they get service in the same restaurant?”

You might want to take this program to find out the answers.

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Cartooning certificate draws out artists in con-ed students