First Comics News: What is Comic Book Boot camp?
Ty Tempelton: It’s a school for folks who want to make comics. We teach classes in plotting, scripting, layout, penciling, inking, cover design and anatomy. It’s called the “BOOTCAMP”, because, like army training, it’s fairly intensive, exhausting and concentrated into two months per course. You’ll learn more in 21 hours of class time than you will in a typical yearlong course at an art college. That’s not an idle comment, btw…I used to teach these courses at an art college in Toronto and I was asked to space out the information and learning so as not to overtax the students. I’ve since discovered that it’s better to load up the information early and spend time using the lessons in practical exercises.
1st: Is it aimed a people who want to break into comic or pros who want to work on some skills?
Ty: Yes. The short answer is yes. I’ve had professional TV and YA writers take my writer’s course with happy experiences all around. My art courses have graduated a few working professionals such as Marcio Takara, David Cutler and Adam Gorham, amongst others.
1st: What type of skills are taught?
Ty: We teach everything you possibly need to know to get work in the biz, except colouring and lettering, primarily because we don’t have a functioning computer lab in our one-room-schoolhouse.
1st: Do you have to physically attend the class or is it a correspondence class?
Ty: Yup, there is a physical location and you have to come down to the school. A HUGE part of the course is interacting with the other students. I teach the lessons, but the students evaluate and critique each other when the work is done. Getting notes from someone trying to learn and execute the same lessons is very valuable.
1st: Where is the class taught?
Ty: The city of Toronto, specifically 392 Spadina Avenue (just south of College). It’s downtown Toronto, walking distance from the Eaton’s Centre, in the city’s famous “Kensington Market” district.
1st: Is it a one time class or a series of classes?
Ty: Both. There’s a class called “The Bootcamp” which is an overview of the various skills, like a sampler. We teach that one twice a year so folks can get the basic skills, but we also teach expanded “expert level” courses for each skill as well.
1st: How do you register?
Ty: Go to the website “www.comicbookbootcamp.com” and follow the steps to register. It’s most a phone call or an email, easy peasy. We take PayPal, or cash when you show up to class.
1st: How much does it cost?
Ty: I think most of the classes are $350 bucks for seven weeks (and follow ups after class is finished, when I critique your big project). I’m pleased with the fact that it’s the least expensive ticket for this sort of class in the city. And it’s the only one taught by a working professional, and not someone retired, or who has never done this for a living.
1st: I first noticed your work on Stig’s Inferno, how did you break into comics?
Ty: Accidentally, really. I was introduced to the publisher by a mutual friend when I was in college, and drawing comics was a really fun way to supplement my income when I was in my twenties. I didn’t expect it to become my career…but I got nominated for a “Kirby” Award for my first year’s worth of work there, and then the phone started ringing. I was originally supposed to be a Beatle or a member of Squeeze in my career, but it turned out that those jobs were taken.
1st: You have won a couple of Eisner Awards and the Joe Shuster Award, What’s it like to have your work recognized by your pears?
Ty: Pleasant, of course. It’s nice to think people are appreciating what you’re doing, and it’s not a futile exercise in obscurity. Of course, being well known as a comic artist/writer is still fairly obscure for the real world. I always liken it to be the world’s most famous mini-golfer. An achievement, certainly, but one that keeps you humble. I get recognized when I’m out in public (not at a convention) about three times a year, so it’s not the kind of fame that goes to anyone’s head.
1st: Last year you were inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Hall of Fame, what was that experience like?
Ty: It’s Canadian, so it’s a small affair. We gather round a poutine bowl, cover ourselves with Maple Syrup and sing rousing songs about hockey in French. To outsiders, it seems odd, but we understand the traditions.
1st: So, if someone attends the Comic Book Boot Camp how long until they can expect to become an internationally renowned comic book super star like your self?
Ty: It’s up to the individual student. As I said, some of my former students have had epic careers. Marcio Takara is currently drawing an Iron Man series for Marvel, I’ve got a former student directing segments on the TV series, “Ugly Americans”…I’ve got a student doing a series with Alan Grant, co-creator of Judge Dredd, a student doing his second series with Valiant and Image comics coming up in 2016, as well as whole bunches of former students producing exciting self-published projects that are coming out left and right. One of the things I find happens after someone takes my classes is that they can’t wait to get working and start generating their own projects asap. There’s currently a wonderful anthology series being published called “TORONTO COMICS” that features mostly ex-bootcampers, that’s worth a good look. I’ve only been doing this for about five years, and the percentages of students who go on to create and work in the entertainment industry is fairly high. Some of them have become film directors, animation storyboard artists or publishers of Young Adult novels, which is not strictly the comics industry, but related enough that I’ll take some pride in their work.
1st: I see you are doing some work for Space Goat, they work as a booking agent for creators as well as a publisher. Do they represent you?
Ty: Not at the moment. I was approached to work on their Evil Dead series by the editor, who is an old friend of mine from back at DC COMICS in the late 90s. I’ve done a series of covers for their EVIL DEAD II mini-series, and we’re talking about writing/drawing some more projects together in the new year.
1st: Do you recommend Space Goat to your graduating students?
Ty: They’ve been very nice to me, so I recommend them to anyone, frankly. Good folks.
1st: Next month you have some EC Comics inspired Evil Dead 2: Cradle of the Damned covers, How did that come about?
Ty: Answered above. The editor, Darren Vincenzo, is an old friend from DC Comics days. We worked on a Batman project or two together, and his position at Space Goat meant he has old DC freelancers in his rolodex. I wish it was a more exciting story.
1st: Any parting words you want to share with our readers?
Ty: Talent is bullshit. At least as far as writing and drawing is concerned. Those are learned skill sets and ANYONE can learn them, given time. You have to be born with an athletic ability or a high vocal range, but ANYONE can learn the rules of anatomy, composition, rendering, plotting, character arcs and dialogue. There’s no such thing as someone “born” to be a good writer or artist…it only comes from thousands of hours of study and practice, but it’s available to anyone who tries. I often say, if you can write the alphabet (a form of drawing recognizable things that must be interpreted by another brain as meaningful images) than you can draw. If you can’t write the alphabet, give me a while to teach you that, and then we’ll learn the range of movement for a shoulder socket. It’s not much tougher than learning how to draw the letter “B”.