University Cartoonists Conquer 24 Hour Comic Marathon

"Comics and cartoons have been viewed as the poor man's literary equivalent to a novel, but the UK is now beginning to catch up with mainland Europe, America and especially Japan where Manga is a dominant force. I believe we can offer the world something completely different."

Senior Lecturer Adrian Tooth, Staffordshire University

With pencils sharpened and ideas set, students from Staffordshire University's new cartoon and comic art degree went against the clock to complete an original comic book - in just 24 hours.

Students from the university took on the 24 hour comic challenge as part of a worldwide event created by American cartoonist Scott McCloud in 1990, whereby each participant attempts to complete a full 24-page comic book from start to finish in one day.

Jack Baker, 19, who is in his second year of his BA(Hons) Cartoon and Comic Arts Degree, said: "It was a real test and as the deadline loomed, we had to complete an original comic without any prior preparation or materials being brought in to help on the day, so really you did everything from scratch."

"The clock keeps ticking so it is a real challenge but it was a great experience for everyone taking part."

The dramatic growth of people using iPads and other tablets to read newspapers, magazines has caused a new demand for cartoonists, with national newspapers struggling to find their next Steve Bell or Matt Pritchett.

This led Staffordshire University to launch its own BA(Hons) Cartoon and Comic Arts degree in September, 2011, after discussions with employers and students highlighted a gap in the market.

Senior Lecturer Adrian Tooth, from the School of Art and Design at Staffordshire University, said:  “We were getting students coming to us who were showing us portfolios which neither leaned towards Graphic Illustration or Animation, but they had this real desire to tell stories visually.

"Comics and cartoons have been viewed as the poor man's literary equivalent to a novel, but the UK is now beginning to catch up with mainland Europe, America and especially Japan where Manga is a dominant force. I believe we can offer the world something completely different."

Undergraduates on the course study life drawing, contextual studies, and the history of political and social cartooning, contemporary application and the resurgence of the graphic novel.

Fellow second year Cartoon and Comic Arts student, Claire Smith, 20, who lives in Stoke-on-Trent, said: “At school I was a very keen storyteller and I used to like writing and drawing. I was introduced to comics by a friend and it brought together two of my favourite things which I never imagined could be combined into an actual job.

"I had come to Staffordshire University on one of their open days and was taking part in the Graphic Illustration session where this new course was mentioned a few times, so I badgered the course leader Adrian who completely sold me on the course."

Adrian added: "We've tried to keep the numbers manageable for the challenge and included some of our first year students to allow them to have the experience of creating their first comic."

You can follow updates from Staffordshire University's Cartoonists via the Cartoon and Comic Arts Blog.

Find out more about studying Cartoon and Comic Arts at Staffordshire University.

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