Summer Workshops and Intern Sweat

The summer is coming to a close but not without help of some very talented (sometimes sweaty) interns. While most of the workshops are a smorgasbord of students peppered in from all around the globe of varying ages, interests and previous self-publishing abilities and taught by the very best of CCS professors and guests (like the lovely and talented Aaron Renier), these people worked hard and long behind the scenes. They all sat down to describe the environment at The Center for Cartoon Studies Workshops and of course, tell me their favorite books in the Schulz Library!

Drawing by Jason Dake

Our first intern was Jason Dake from Flushing, MI. Dake interestingly enough does not want to be a full-time cartoonist but has a BS in art education and is currently working on his MA in arts administration at the University of Michigan-Flint. He usually spends his time at the Flint Institute of Arts as an educator, working primarily with k-12 students.

So why White River Junction? “I came to CCS to see how a small arts organization in a small town in rural Vermont operates. Having experience with a mid-sized art museum, I wanted to work outside my usual environment. I also love comics, and read and draw them when I am able. Some of my favorite titles are Fables, Hellboy, and Mouse Guard (David Petersen is originally from Flint!), though I grew up reading and collecting superhero comics.” Dake plans on using his experience at CCS to work on plans for the final project in his Master’s program, essentially creating from scratch a collaborative and educational institution that uses comics as a format for telling stories. Sounds like he wants to start the CCS-Midwest branch!

Jason’s upstairs neighbor, Chewie. Owned by the hard-working Sam & Kristin Carbaugh

Dake felt that White River Junction was definitely a memorable place as well, even if it was (and certainly still is) small. “The county I live in has about as many people as the entirety of Vermont, so I am not entirely used to spending long periods of time in small towns. It was a welcome change of pace, to be honest. The CCS students were one of the greatest, kindest, most welcoming groups of people I’ve ever encountered. I think that’s definitely something worth mentioning, and I’d like to thank everyone I met for that.” Dake’s upbeat attitude is definitely missed as well.

Thanks to a recommendation of CCS ’12 student Sean Knickerbocker, Dake read and loved Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. He spent his time helping out the first summer workshop, Create Comics, and even made a one-sheet comic that (reordered for proper online reading!).

Audrey Grieve is attending SCAD Atlanta this fall and is no stranger to Vermont since her origins lie in New Hampshire.  “I wanted to come to CCS to intern so that I could get to know a wider range of cartoonists while still immersing myself in a learning environment- cause I have lots to learn! Also it’s a great area and as I said the people are fantastic so I was really comfortable with the idea of this being my first internship. Even if I hadn’t known anyone here beforehand, after my first day I would have felt like I had!”

Grieve spent a lot of time making sure the Cartooning Studio and Animation for Cartoonists workshops ran smoothly with setting up classrooms. Luckily, she also spent some time with workshop attendees giving them that critical feedback on their work. “Everyone here is so welcoming (students and faculty alike) and friendly and helpful. I know whenever I want feedback on my work, there will be more than one person I can go to for helpful critique. So far, so awesome!” The environment is fantastic not just for making comics but improving upon them, pulling that mind taffy in different directions in Grieve’s mind.

Being in New England wasn’t a new experience by Grieve expressed her love of WRJ and the proximity of…well, everything. “IT’S FREAKING BEAUTIFUL HERE, and anything that isn’t in walking distance is still just a 5 minute drive.”

With the world’s biggest grin, Grieve stated that she could not pick a favorite comic book or graphic novel but THREE.  Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Solanin by Inio Asano, and Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and JH Williams are her current three but she is still spending time at the Schulz Library.

We HAD a lot of spider problems until Stephanie Mannheim took the case.

In the Schulz Library, Stephanie Mannheim really loved the student work and (as a glasses-wearer) the Hey 4-Eyes anthology edited by Robyn Chapman.  Another great find was our collection of Harvey Kurtzman’s “Hey, Look” strips: to reiterate Mannheim cried “I’m a big fan of Kurtzman!” Among our newly organized zine section, Mannheim found the “Low Jinx” mini-comics and proclaimed them hilarious.

Mannheim hails from New York and just finished her first year at Barnard College as well as interning for Augenblick Studios (creators of such finely animated programs like Ugly Americans and Superjail!).  “Robyn Chapman told me about this internship a while back and it seemed like a great chance for me to immerse myself in comics, meet new people, and get some solid work done on my next mini-comic before SPX.”  Mannheim spent the majority of her time setting up the Colodny classroom, getting catering together for the Cartooning Studio and Animation for Cartoonists workshops, and orientation packets organized for the upcoming school year. And as of yesterday, she’d printed her mini-comic for SPX and was definitely rubbing her hands together in a particularly evil way.

Wade Simpson while attending a summer workshop

Back in summer of 2009, Wade Simpson decided to take a CCS summer workshop which was 3,300 miles from his home. It was a decision that changed everything about his life. Almost everything. This summer, as an intern for the CREATE COMICS workshop, he found common ground between his previous career in television, and his future endeavors as a cartoonist.

Simpson had been working in television since 1997 and, like everyone, started at the bottom rung. As a production assistant, he paid his production dues driving grip trucks, moving folding chairs and coolers, collecting trash, and sometimes, sweeping abandoned freeways with a broom (don’t ask.) Production assistants are usually the first people to arrive on set, and the last to leave. This sounds remarkably like being an intern.

Simpson also discovered that he had not entirely left behind the world of television production. He found similarities between being a TV production assistant and an intern for CCS. In both positions, Simpson was the first one to arrive in the mornings and the last to leave in the evenings. Instead of setting up folding chairs for extras, he was wiping down tables for artists. He was still collecting trash, lunch waste and filling coolers, just like television work, to keep things running smoothly. And just like working in Los Angeles, Simpson found the work hours to be very long yet very rewarding. Instead of toiling over a 44 minute episode, the production focused on a 44 page comic called “N. Cognito and the Duplication Dilemma

Wade Simpson working alongside instructor and CCS ’11 alum, Beth Hetland

In other ways, like managing resources and working with large groups of people, TV work and being a CCS intern were quite analogous. Except, thankfully, Simpson was never asked to sweep an abandoned freeway with a broom* and, at the end of the day, everyone felt happy. Simpson will continue on as a student of CCS this September as he enters his second year of the MFA program.

Once again, we thank all the interns for their hard work with which the summer workshops would not have run as smooth or efficiently. Expect great things and comics in the future from Jason Dake, Audrey Grieve, Stephanie Mannheim and Wade Simpson.

*There’s always next year.

Jen Vaughn

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2 Responses to Summer Workshops and Intern Sweat

  1. Jason says:

    Awesome post – Thanks!

    I’m hoping to come back to visit WRJ ASAP! I’ll keep you all posted.

  2. Al Wesolowsky says:

    I took the Animation Workshop (the last workshop of the summer, but the first time it’s been offered at CCS) and I gotta praise the overall organization and the attention and hard work of the interns. There were a few sniggles and snags along the way, such as searching for a quiet place to record the dialogue for the films—we ended up at the Tupelo Music Hall down on South Main, which was perfect. But all the problems were speedily overcome with good humor and enthusiasm on the part of CCS and the students and the instructors.

    Thanks, everyone, for a great learning experience!

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