Education in Comics part 1 - Is college right for you?

by Matthew Russell - Posted 3 years ago


Welcome, my CryptoComic Compatriots! Today we are talking about various education opportunities for those that are wanting to break into comics.

As many of you know, aside from CryptoComics Editor-In-Chief, I am a teacher. I teach high school programming. We have recently begun an accreditation program where if you take my class you will get college credit as well. It’s a sweet program but it got me thinking; what about comics?

What are the best colleges for a young student that wants to break into comics? Are there any around? What is the cost? Most importantly, what is the likelihood of getting a job after graduation?


This subject really bothers me as a teacher. I’ve had parents tell me that “their son got accepted to Brown, so they made it in life.” Holy hell, that is so far from the truth. Just making it into a university, only means that you made it into a university. It has little bearing on their future. I’ve seen several Ivy league graduates in the unemployment line.

I was doing the hiring for a company of developers and programmers a few years back. I had it narrowed down to 2 applicants.

Applicant A - We will call him George. He graduated with a Masters’s Degree from a rather prodigious school on the West Coast. I liked him. He interviewed well. He had not had a job yet and I could tell that he was buried under a mountain of student debt. He spent his entire time studying so that he could get his degree and graduate at the top of his class.

Applicant B - We will refer to him as Sam. Sam came from a humble background. He worked odd jobs, mostly manual labor jobs until he got hurt and had to reevaluate his life. He went to the local community college. In order to pay his tuition, he took random odd jobs that would coincide with his homework for web development.

In other words, he was told to build a database system using SQL, so he found a client and charge them pennies on the dollar to build a database system. He would turn that into the client for a check and then turn around and hand that into his professors for a grade. He was a hustler (in a good way). He also would ask the client to write him a letter of recommendation with every project, since he wasn’t charging that much.

When it came to my thought process as to who I should hire, I went with Sam. He had real work experience. He knew how to talk with a client. He had a portfolio on LinkedIn along with about a hundred letters of recommendation, all glowing reviews.

That being said, a friend of mine was also hiring for another position at his company. Since he didn’t do the same thing but required the same type of industry credentials and backgrounds, we didn’t look at each other as competitors. I called him and told him about George and George was hired over there. In the end, it worked out for everyone.

The point is that having that impressive degree just wasn’t as impressive as George thought. It was the work experience and the hustle that I was looking for. Sam was hungry and it showed.

Quick Follow Up

I recently talked to Sam. I left that job as his boss and became a teacher. I called him to see if he would be willing to be an industry advisor for my class. He agreed and he and I went out to lunch to discuss my curriculum and tweak it to accommodate the industry needs.

He has since been promoted to my old job and was in the middle of hiring more people. He asked for some advice on the hiring process and I told him to look for someone that is willing to go the extra mile to prove themselves. He ended up hiring one of my former students. Circle of life in effect.

What is the importance of college?

Continued education is not right for everyone. There are many that are perfectly happy in a trade field that will do quite well for themselves and make a ton of money without ever having to step inside a college classroom.

If you look at college as a necessary step, you will end up with a student debt that will rival the Himalayas and give you a strange sense of entitlement. If you look at it as I need to know more about a particular field of interest, and this is the quickest way to get the information, the world is yours.

Several prominent figures in the entertainment industry never went to college. James Cameron never finished college, Steven Spielberg went to college after he made his millions as a film director, only to encourage his daughter to do the same. Kevin Smith dropped out of film school to direct Clerks. Last but not least, Rob Liefield only took drawing classes from his community college.

Am I advocating for you to not attend college; no. I am simply stating that you don’t or shouldn’t place all your hopes and dreams on it. It is not a guarantee of work afterward. It’s the hustle and the hunger that will take you places. College should just provide some extra tools that you can have in your arsenal.


How much should you pay for a course/degree/class/credit? Well, dang, that all depends on your state’s average, any discounts, state funding, and so on.

Typical Cost of College Tuition

Let’s face it, college cost a lot of money. Many people go into debt and almost don’t recover. I have a friend that graduated from college and started a pretty decent job. They bought a house and came over to our house crying. The looked at everything and realized that their student loan would be fixed for 10 years and it was more expensive than her house and car payments combined.

There are several things you can do to lower this (listed below), but this might play a major roll in the decision-making process as to which college to attend. For example, in my home region, the major schools are CEI (College of Eastern Idaho) and BYU-I (Brigham Young University Idaho). Let’s take a look at their tuition cost.

CEI cost (according to the CEI website) about $2,789 per semester, with books being about $726. For out of state students, the books are the same but the cost per semester almost doubles at $4,337 per semester. You also have to keep in mind, they are a smaller community college and cannot offer the same variety of courses, ie, no art degrees. They do offer design classes where you can get a certification in various programs such as Photoshop, but no dedicated programs or degrees in art.

BYU-I is an LDS church-run school in the same vein as Notre Dame University. That being said, they offer a discount of 50% for active members of the church. Nonmembers will end up paying $4300 per semester. This being a private college, you also are not eligible for all the various discounts that a state tun school can offer.

In-State VS Out of State Tuition

I looked at a ton of statistics on this and it looks like the national average for in-state tuition VS Out of State tuition is about $8,890 per year. Most poor college kids have to save and scrimp every penny to make it work. That 8g’s per year is a make or break thing.

Not all hope is lost. On average, most states require that you live in that state for 365 days consecutively and you will qualify for in-state tuition.

Military Discount

Oh, we love our Veterans. There are so many benefits for Post Secondary Education for the Vets. We have things like the G.I Bill, Veterans Discounts, and so much more. You can even get the government to pick up the tab in some cases while you are active duty. Talk to your advisor about the benefits and make a plan.

Now, that being said, the military isn’t for everyone. If your parent is a Veteran, there is a chance that you can receive the college benefits as well. Personally I didn’t qualify for this due to the fact that I went into the military and they won’t let you double dip. For more information on this, check out this amazing article from

Coming Soon - Part 2

We will go over some pretty impressive colleges that offer some awesome programs with comics! I can’t wait to show you all the cool stuff out there. In order to get to all of that, we had to get through the rough parts that no one is talking about, hence, part 1. I will see you back soon. Until then, Stay at home, Read comics. Much love.