I meant to get this post up many days ago but it’s been that kinda week. Last Friday I went to SVA’s comics/zine fest Fresh Meat where seniors—and some undergrads—learn how to sit behind a table and smile while selling their print comics. It’s valuable training for would be cartoonists, and a sharp preview of what’s to come. There are always a few stars to be found but as I’ve been going to the event nearly every year, it sure has changed.
This year’s event was packed when I got there but mostly with youngsters, fellows art students or comics lovers, I’m not sure. The trend has been more and more towards women over the years but this time it was probably 75/25 female to male. The most accomplished students were probably Molly Ostertag (above) and Hazel Newlevant. Newlevant has gotten lots of attention here and elsewhere and Ostertag’s Strong Female Protagonist (Written by Brennan Lee Mulligan) already has a following.
Once long ago, an SVA class was mostly guys who wanted to draw Spider-Man or Batman but there were no superhero artists among the ones I saw. Then manga style ruled the day but there was no overt manga that I spotted, although a lot of manga-infused work. The work was really all over the place—personal, unfiltered and, yes, fresh. It’s the “modern” style that mixes American, European and Japanese influences all over the place. Jillian Tamaki, who teaches at SVA has a little portfolio of seniors here and you can see what I’m talking about firsthand. (I share her enthusiasm for Aatmaja Pandya.) I’m not sure what kind of career anyone has in mind but the publishers I heard mentioned most were First Second and Vertigo.
Most cartooning students everywhere are now women, according to my informal inquiries. I’m not sure what this says about the future of the medium or the cartooning profession…I don’t think anyone does. Is it just a trendy “thing”?
A few more images.
It’s a little hard to see, but her jacket has a panel from Normal Rockwell’s “Gossips” — she made it from a curtain but apparently YOU CAN BUY THIS CLOTH ONLINE. Holy shit. Mind. Blown.
The guys who were there either weren’t very prepared, or had a whole concept down, like these fellows.
Just some of the diverse participants. he woman on the left had a little comic about female murderers — I think that would so well in the Snapped environment.
And more of the crowd.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.