School is in session!
The Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency officially launched in the spring of 2016, thanks to the incredible support of the comics community and a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2015.
The Rowhouse is a busy place this year as we run residencies for the many folks who contributed to the Indigogo campaign, and host certain master cartoonists who are making a point of coming through Pittsburgh to spar in the Comics Workbook dojo.
We have begun accepting applications for residents in 2017. Please email santoroschoolATgmail for information on how to apply.
So what exactly is the Rowhouse Residency? And who the hell am I, anyways?
I’m Frank Santoro. I’ve been making and writing about comics since 1988. My work has been exhibited at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Allegedly, I’m a good egg and one of the most passionate proselytizers for comic books and visual literacy that you will ever meet.
I’m from Pittsburgh, PA and I want to make this city the best place in the world to learn comic book making. Beyond that and closer to home I want to improve the neighborhood I am from. I grew up in this neighborhood in Pittsburgh called Swissvale – and my family has been on this tiny little street since 1933. This was a booming steel town hamlet and then it went into decline. Now, the city and the neighborhood are on the upswing. I want to be a part of that change and now my schoolhouse residency is anchor on this street and in this neighborhood.
I’ve traveled all over the world and there is something special about Pittsburgh besides my own nostalgia or hometown pride. The Rowhouse Residency is now a part of the incredible ecosystem of learning institutions here in Pittsburgh. We are such an interesting city, I think, because we have this combination of a hard working blue collar mentality and a broad appreciation of the arts. I know it’s because of the ecosystem of museums, libraries, universities and independent learning institutions we have in Pittsburgh. Everyone from here has been to the Carnegie Museum and a Steeler game. City of Champions in more ways than one.
Even if you know very little about comic books please consider that comics are where many kids learn to read. Comics are words and pictures. And words and pictures are the internet. So the artform of comics promotes “visual literacy”. Learning comics is like learning music or learning how to communicate with more than just words. And that’s the world we live in today.
We are creating a dojo for students much like a martial arts academy. The beginner student will learn from more experienced students. We run the school like a sports clinic. What’s wrong with your swing? We can fix it. The dojo sparring sessions (so to speak) are recorded and broadcast. We have a “broadcast booth” and a radio show. We interview veterans and rookies and make room for friendly competition in order to push the boundaries of what is possible in the art form. This is not your regular comic book academy. This is a ninja academy, a samurai school, a Jedi academy. I do a really good Yoda impression.
The student can live for a day, a weekend, a week or a month at a time in the same space. That way, the student-resident can have a total immersion in the process. Most cartoonists work out of their home, so why have an expensive school building and make the student live in a crappy dorm or apartment off campus? Why not just give them a desk and their own bedroom? The residents take classes with me in the living room of the house. And my mom lives up the street and makes great spaghetti sauce and lasagna. So it’s a family affair. We broadcast lessons and publish the work of residents through the local powerhouse, Copacetic Comics. Bill Boichel, the proprietor of Copacetic Comics in the Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh, is my Yoda. I want to pass on the lessons he taught me to a new generation of Jedis.
The circle is now complete.
Email santoroschoolATgmail for more info about how to apply for a residency