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MFAComics

Turn your passion for storytelling and the comics medium into a lifelong career.

Overview

Time and space for your creative voice

CCA’s graduate comics program is a space where artists and writers come together to support and challenge each other’s craft. Our low-residency structure gives you the freedom to build your creative practice from anywhere while keeping you on track with project deadlines and individualized goals.

You will learn from peers who approach comic art from different perspectives, including illustration, computer science, and fiction. Collaboration and interdisciplinary exploration will help you discover what makes a great story work. The curriculum embraces your authentic path as an artist and encourages the development of your individual style.

Studios + Shops

One-on-one craft instruction

Workshop with Thorina Rose at CCA's Memoir Comics Studio _  one-on-one craft instruction

Our program focuses on three aspects of the creative process: the history and culture of the medium, the craft of making comics, and the critical analysis of our work. Whether we’re creating literary graphic novels or web-based comics, process is just as important as the final product. You’ll work with faculty mentors, from start to finish, as you capitalize on your individual strengths and build toward a book-length comics project for graduation.

Emanata_MFA in Comics Exhibition 2017 at Hubbell Street Galleries_Connecting with a global audience

Connecting with a global audience

In addition to supporting your creative process, we also help you connect with an ever-growing audience for new comics. We take a deep dive into digital comics, connect with agents and editors, study comics pedagogy, and look at various crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon.

During the third and final summer session in San Francisco, you’ll explore digital distribution channels, as well as grassroots self-publishing strategies, with the goal of sharing your original art with a global audience. We travel to comics conventions around the U.S., giving you the opportunity to interact face-to-face with comics fans and industry professionals.

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)

Faculty

Get expert mentoring

Our faculty are practicing cartoonists who are dedicated to eliminating any barriers between you and your dream projects. Imagine working with a critically acclaimed graphic novelist, or an Eisner-nominated writer. Our all-star faculty serve as your professional guides in everything from comics theory to publication design.

You’ll also study with faculty from related programs, such as Illustration and Writing and Literature, to help you discover new ways to bring your story to life on the page or screen.

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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, a story about a TV executive who tries to start a 24-hour cable network for the homeless, was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2007. Recent 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. Silady has also collaborated with open education platform Kadenze to share a free online comics course with 8,000 students around the world.

Curriculum

Our low-residency structure

Students spend four weeks in San Francisco each July for three consecutive summers, collaborating with peers and taking advantage of our many spaces for artmaking on campus. In between these intensive summer workshops, students complete projects long-distance, working with faculty one-on-one and taking part in regular online group critiques with the entire cohort.

MFA Comics

Summer 1

Intro to Comics Theory
3 units
Tools and Techniques Studio
3 units
History and Cultural Impact Seminar
3 units
Comics Workshop
3 units

Fall and Spring 1

One-on-One Mentoring
3 units
Online Graduate Comics Workshop
3 units

Summer 2

Narrative Arts
3 units
Underrepresented Voices Seminar
3 units
Digital Tools
3 units
Comics Workshop 2
3 units

Fall and Spring 2

One-on-One Mentoring
3 units
Online Graduate Comics Workshop
3 units

Summer 3

Production and Publication Design
3 units
Digital Comics
3 units
Comics Pedagogy
3 units
Professional Practice
3 units

Total 48 units

Careers

Bringing stories to life

Our graduate cartoonists emerge from the program with a toolbox of practical techniques and a strong sense of artistic identity. Their exposure to interdisciplinary work and knowledge of grassroots self-publishing helps them hit the ground running. From graphic memoir to genre fiction and comics journalism, our alumni approach creative opportunities with a passion for powerful storytelling.

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

Enter the new golden age of comics

Our two-year, low-residency program welcomes students of all ages and backgrounds. While some of our students have undergraduate degrees in fine arts, design, or writing, just as many have experience in completely different fields, from computer science to law. Overall, placement in our program is based on the strength of your portfolio and transcripts.

Application fundamentals

You’ll need to submit three components that are common to all CCA graduate applications:

  • Resume/curriculum vitae
  • Two recommendation letters
  • Unofficial college transcripts

Additionally, you’ll submit a portfolio and personal essay that are tailored to your specific master’s program. You may be contacted for an online or on-campus interview with the graduate program manager or a faculty member.

MFA Comics submissions

Writing portfolio

You need to submit writing samples that best reflect your main area of interest. Your writing samples may include short stories, a novel section, creative nonfiction, a screenplay section, or a comic book script. Our admissions committee will review your portfolio on a computer, so please make sure it adheres to the following specifications:

  • Must be a SlideRoom submission
  • All samples must be in one PDF file
  • 15 double-spaced pages maximum

Academic, professional, and personal work are all acceptable. Once uploaded and submitted via SlideRoom, no further changes can be made to your writing portfolio.

Visual portfolio

You need to submit visual images that best represent your work in the comics medium or other disciplines, such as graphic design, painting, photography, and storyboard art. Our admissions committee will review your portfolio on a computer, so please make sure it adheres to the following specifications:

  • Must be a SlideRoom submission
  • 15 still images maximum
  • 5 MB maximum file size for each image

Academic, professional, and personal work are all acceptable. Once uploaded and submitted via SlideRoom, no further changes can be made to your visual portfolio.

Contact our program manager with questions

Matt Silady

Chair of MFA in Comics

[email protected]

Join a studio culture focused on innovation

Apply now