An installation of colorful comics suspended in a white space.

BFAComics

Start a visual storytelling practice at the leading undergraduate comics program on the West Coast.

Overview

Create emotionally compelling comic art

n array of Silver Sprocket published comics at the spring 2019 pop-up comics expo.

An array of Silver Sprocket published comics at the spring 2019 pop-up comics expo.

Rich narrative concepts, dynamic visual approaches

Comics is a visual literary medium that has a deep history, specific craft demands, and exciting new possibilities as the industry grows. CCA’s BFA in Comics focuses on narrative development, relationships between text and image, and visual storytelling to push the practice to new heights.

The curriculum includes training in narrative concepts and character development, illustration and design, critical scholarship, and professional practice. You’ll become a practitioner who merges these multidisciplinary powers to make comics that only you could create.

Draw from a community with publishing power

Comics culture continues to flourish in San Francisco, and CCA is home to a well-established graduate comics program. Our faculty are immersed in the scene, from helping launch the first San Francisco Comics Fest to leading entire publishing imprints dedicated to cartoonists of color and queer storytellers. Our alumni have contributed important works to the collective dialogue, including Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir and Alex Combs’ upcoming Trans History: A Graphic Novel. In short, we’re changing the types of stories told across the medium.

As the only undergraduate BFA program like it on the West Coast, Comics uniquely prepares students to enter the professional comics industry with a singular artistic practice and critical capacity, having spent four years making comics that engage with the ethical, historical, and social dimensions of the greater world beyond the college.

Studios & Shops

Time and space for storytelling

A professor points to a comic on screen in a classroom with Comics program students.

Comics Tools & Techniques with Kim Bennett

Located on our growing San Francisco campus, BFA Comics facilities include studio and classroom spaces that encourage open-ended explorations and expansive storytelling, whether on a tablet or risograph. CCA also builds in opportunities for Comics students to get hands-on with complementary mediums that both extend and deepen their individual comics practice in preparation for a capstone thesis project in their senior year.

Three students work on comics in the computer lab.

Three students work on comics in the computer lab.

Interdisciplinary making informs our practice

  • Unique summer programming and Wacom workstations shared with with MFA Comics cohorts
  • Annual collegewide student events, shows, and publications
  • Large bed scanners and portable drawing tables shared with Writing and Literature students
  • A high-end input/output lab to scan and print at self-use stations in the Digital Fine Arts Studio
  • Graphic Design and Illustration spaces with specialized printing machines, such as risograph and book-binding equipment
  • Computer labs and media services, with laptops, drawing tablets, cameras, software suites, and much more

Recent Comics in the City speakers

  • J.H. Williams III (Promethea and Sandman: Overture)
  • Nicole J. Georges (Fetch)
  • Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer)
  • MariNaomi (Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories)
  • Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama)
  • Mike Mignola (Hellboy)
  • Gene Luen Yang (Dragon Hoops)
  • Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets)
  • Steenz (Heart of the City)

Faculty

Acclaimed cartoonists, graphic novelists, and writers

Comics faculty have significant professional industry experience and are at the forefront of the creative and intellectual discourse of this vital and emerging storytelling medium. The comics field is inherently multidisciplinary, and the program’s curriculum thrives through collaboration with faculty from a range of adjacent disciplines across the college, including writing, animation, and illustration. With an all-star faculty as your guide, you’ll have unique opportunities to explore different dimensions of your personal comics practice.

Illustrated portrait of Matt Silady.

Matt Silady, Chair of Comics

Chair Matt Silady’s comics have appeared in graphic novels, magazines, newsprint, and online. His first book, The Homeless Channel, was nominated for an Eisner Award. Other projects include launching the inaugural San Francisco Comics Fest, the Folio Award-nominated comic The Great Wine Heist for Sonoma Magazine, and guest editing the SF Weekly comics issue. He has also collaborated with open education platform Kadenze to share a free online comics course with 10,000 students around the world.

Curriculum

We think with our hands

Conceptual, technical, and critical practice

The BFA Comics practice-based curriculum covers digital and analog tools, drawing and illustration, narrative and storytelling, graphic and publication design, comics history and theory, and professional and portfolio development. Students will gain extensive technical experience with digital, analog, and multi-genre storytelling and develop a digital skillset grounded in industry-standard software suites.

Investigate ideas through every dimension

Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Experience. Students explore a wide range of materials and tools over the course of two semesters, supplemented by foundational courses in art history, critical studies, and writing. Faculty from different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions, setting students up for success throughout their major coursework.

BFA Comics

Core Studio

Drawing 1
3.0 units
2D, 3D, and 4D
9.0 units

Comics Major Requirements

Foundations in Comics & Visual Storytelling
3.0 units
Comics Studio: Tools and Techniques
3.0 units
Comics Studio: Drawing for Comics
3.0 units
Comics Studio: Digital Tools
3.0 units
Comics Workshop: Scripting for Artists
3.0 units
Comics Workshop: Storytelling
3.0 units
Comics Workshop: Memoir, Non-Fiction, & Journalism
3.0 units
Comics Perspectives
3.0 units
Comics Publication: Print & Digital
3.0 units
Applied Comics
3.0 units
Comics Critique
3.0 units
Professional Practice
3.0 units
Senior Project: Thesis
6.0 units

Additional Studio Requirements

Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio
3.0 units
Critical Ethnic Studies Studio (2000 level)
3.0 units
Studio Electives
12.0 units

Humanities & Sciences Requirements

Writing 1
3.0 units
Writing 2
3.0 units
Introduction to the Arts
3.0 units
Introduction to the Modern Arts
3.0 units
Foundations in Critical Studies
3.0 units
Media History: Comics
3.0 units
Critical Ethnic Studies Seminar (2000 level)
3.0 units
Literary and Performing Arts Studies (2000 level)
3.0 units
Philosophy and Critical Theory (2000 level)
3.0 units
Social Science/History (2000 level)
3.0 units
Science/Math (2000 level)
3.0 units
History of Art and Visual Culture (2000 level)
3.0 units
Humanities and Sciences Electives (2000 or 3000 level, at least 6 units must be 3000 level)
12.0 units

Total 120.0 units

Careers

Join the next generation of comics artists

A student pins up a comic in an exhibition.

Students graduate from BFA Comics with strong visual storytelling portfolios that demonstrate the technical and conceptual skills required to thrive in an evolving media culture. Alumni can create professional-quality comics in a variety of genres, for a variety of audiences, and are dextrous in text, image, and visual storytelling—a combination that ensures they’re ready to contribute to the discipline and chart successful careers in a burgeoning creative industry.

Potential careers in comic art

  • Cartoonist
  • Comics journalist
  • Storyboard artist
  • Concept artist for video games
  • Concept artist for animation
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Publisher
  • Educator

News & Events

What’s happening in our community?

How to Apply

Create comics that excite you and your audience

Comic art as a discipline continues to evolve. We look for students who are excited about the transformative power of visual storytelling on communities, as well as individual lives. Ideal applicants are open to learning interdisciplinary practices to enhance their ideas, and eager to experiment with the craft. CCA Comics students—immersed in the rich potential of the medium in a city renowned for its creative powers—will gain skills to shape the world of comics and visual storytelling for years to come.

Find your creative community at CCA

Apply now