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News: Frontier Comics Seminar

The Frontier Comics Seminar, or FCS for short, is a six-week intensive course focused on creating comics. This seminar was brought to life because of our love for visual storytelling, and an acknowledgment of the fact that the sequential art form known as comics has a large impact on cultures. The first FCS was run back at the start of 2019 in Lynden, Washington, and now two years later, we are in the process of preparing to run the school in Osaka, Japan.

As I work on fleshing out this school, I have kept coming back to manga. What makes manga so popular around the world? What makes it such a compelling medium? As I have thought about this question, I can’t help but come to two primary conclusions: the first—that manga often involves a story or characters that are very relatable to the average reader, and the second—that manga feels real, even with the use of art.

As this is a school about creating comics and we only have a short time, we tend to focus on the art-side of things more than the story-side (though that isn’t to say we don’t teach on creating stories, because we do). When it comes to the FCS and art, however, I spent time thinking through…what does it mean that manga feels real? The answer I came to, was that it was essentially realism!

Manga and Realism

The more I have looked at manga and observed it, I have found that about 70% of manga is made up of art that, if squinted at, could appear as though it was just photographic line art. So, what does this mean for the FCS then? For me, it means that we needed to focus on teaching realism and how to observe before drawing.

This was an important discovery for me, as I often feel like many art schools or other art curriculums teach people theory or the technique of applying medium to canvas or paper, but not as much of the observation side of things. With that in mind, I started to think through how we could use this seminar to teach our students how to observe, draw from life, and create reference libraries for their own work.

“This is going to be a wonderful time of being around other artists with a kingdom mindset…”

Slowly, my staff and I talked about how we could implement these things, and we settled on some ideas that we think will really give our students an appreciation for drawing from life as well as teaching them how to then convert their realism pieces into things they can use in their own illustrations or comics.

We are so excited for this upcoming year where, as long as the borders are open, we will be running the FCS here in Osaka starting June 3rd, 2022! This is going to be a wonderful time of being around other artists with a kingdom mindset, as well as an opportunity to get to experience Japan, a land that loves the arts. If all this sounds interesting to you, please sign up for the school, or if you have questions do not hesitate to reach out!

- Ian L. (FCS Japan School Leader)

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