The Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency

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.

Check out the Indiegogo campaign video HERE!

The Rowhouse is a busy place as we run residencies for aspiring and experienced comics makers alike, and host certain master cartoonists who are making a point of coming through Pittsburgh to spar in the Comics Workbook dojo.

Rowhouse June-July

L-R top – Audra Stang hard at work during her residency in July 2016 – Frank Santoro with Lale Westvind, June 2016 (above) – Frank with Mahmoud Hashemi and Matthew Conway, June 2016 (below) – Lale Westvind making a comic at the Rowhouse, June 2016  L-R bottom – Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga stop by, May 2016 – Matthew Conway during his residency, June 2016 – Sally Ingraham (above) and Juan Fernandez (below) working on projects at the Rowhouse, July 2016

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We are accepting applications for residencies in 2017 and 2018!

Please email santoroschool@gmail.com to apply.

The application process is more like a conversation – please kick it off by telling us a little bit about yourself, sharing some of your comics or art work, and detailing what your goals might be for your time at the Rowhouse.

Folks have enjoyed residencies that were a weekend to a month long, and we provide different fee structures for the various lengths of stay. You are guaranteed a private room in our comfortably furnished Rowhouse, space and time to work, instruction and mentoring from Frank Santoro and other members of the Comics Workbook team, plus access to Frank’s extensive comics “library” and the resources of the greater Pittsburgh comics community.

Email santoroschool@gmail.com for more details!

L-down – Caleb Orecchio hard at work, July 2016 – Ben Sears taking a look at his comic, August 2016 – Frank working with Gabriella Tito, August 2016 Middle-down – Audra Stang at the ToonSeum (with Pittsburgh comics makers Sam Ombiri, Lane Milburn, and Em DeMarco) during her 2nd residency, January 2017 – Kate Harmon copying Elektra, August 2016 – Adam Griffiths ticking off comics tasks, January 2017 R-down – artwork by Emil Friis Ernst, an exchange student from The Animation Workshop in Denmark, December 2016 – Ronald Wimberly visiting Copacetic Comics, February 2017 – Sam Ombiri stopping by the Rowhouse to print a comic, February 2017

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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.

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Email santoroschool@gmail.com for more info about how to apply for a residency

Check out our School Updates and News – Read the Residency Reports

Follow our Instagram (@rowhouseresidency) – Visit the School Store

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Top row, L-R – Matt Rhodes working, March 2017 – Gloria Rivera and CWRR facilitator Sally Ingraham, March 2017 – Addley Walker digging at Copacetic Comics, June 2017 – work made at the Rowhouse by Jackie Kirby, June 2017 L-down – Connor Willumsen reading Zap comics, April 2017 – Patrick Bolano going over his nearly completed comic with Frank, May 2017 Middle-down – (L-R) Lale Westvind, Connor Willumsen, Audra Stang, Kate Harmon, and Phil Dokes in “the Batman alley” during PIX, April 2017 – Jason Robinson and Frank on the porch at Copacetic Comics, June 2017 R-down – Caleb Orecchio and Audra Stang working on comics the night before PIX, April 2017 – Dash Shaw and Frank at a Pittsburgh screening of My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, April 2017 – Frank in the Comics Work”boat” (canoe) on the Monangahela River, May 2017

Sally Ingraham

Sally Ingraham

Sally is a cartoonist, educator, and journalist based in Pittsburgh, PA. She makes comics about Pittsburgh and bird watching, and co-writes the "Suzy and Cecil" daily strip (with Gabriella Tito). She facilitates the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency, is a managing editor of the CW Daily News, and runs the CW Roller Derby "of the mind" League. She is focused on documenting the current and historic place of women in the comics industry, is working to build the Women's Comics Library, and is developing a comics curriculum by and for girls.
Sally Ingraham

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