I’m not good at making sequential art or manga strips. I did a short manga strip when Anime3000 first got big, and that’s where I learned that I needed more time with polishing my craft. Though I’ve tried to make manga over the past 4 years in Japan (not professionally, just experimentally), I haven’t improved. So, I decided to try an online manga course from Manga University. I’d been thinking about taking the course since I first saw the Manga University, but I didn’t have the money or time to take it.
I did it for you guys, too. I wanted to find an online manga course that works for aspiring artists. I guess you can say that this is my review of the Manga University home study manga course. Is it good? Is it worth the $39.99 (download) or $49.99 (snail mail)?
I honestly don’t think so.
The course asks students to draw one character and email it. This is the course’s best selling point: students’ pictures are redrawn by a professional manga artist with translated comments. I’m interested to see how my picture can be improved by a pro. Here’s my picture (sketch then ink):
But what about drawing manga? Well, the course, which is just weekly PDFs, shows how creators design each page, but students don’t send in their own manga. If students did this, then the $39.99 to $49.99 would be a decent price. A manga course should teach students how to draw comics, not how to draw characters. I understand that comics can’t be drawn without characters, but this course offers the most basic information, stuff you can find in a high school art class. For beginners who’ve never taken a such an art class or they don’t have access to in-person tutoring, this course might be suitable. Alternatives to this course are secondhand art books, Youtube tutorials, and other limited classes.
UPDATE (5/3/2014): I received an email that said they would give me a full refund since I’m advanced and the course is designed for beginners. I guess I’m not getting that revision from a pro manga artist…
How to Bam is aimed at people wanting to become manga creators from the West. So far, they’re just free videos and information.
The World Manga Academy has free seminars and classes for those interested in learning or teaching the art of manga creation. Their interactive website keeps up with your classes and learning history the same way an online school does.
The Center for Cartoon Studies, also known as Cartoon Studios, offers Vermont-based workshops and classes, but for their free how-to guide for doing comics, download it or read it on Issuu here. You can also earn a Masters of Fine Arts in Cartooning.
CourseHorse, an online hub for various classes in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, has several listings for manga and cartooning classes. The prices include more than one class most of the time, but each class fills up fast. Find listings in Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago.
Limited or Fee-based Courses
U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowships are federal grants for artists to exchange culture and experiences with Japanese counterparts. Deadline to apply is February 1, 2018. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.jusfc.gov/creative-artists-programs.
Similar to Manga University, Cotty Kilbanks (cartoonist/artist for Rocko’s Modern Life and Iron Man) on Craftsy has a home study manga course called Drawing Anime Style through HD videos for a set price. This course is for people who consider themselves intermediate level in 2D drawing. For more information, please click here.
CG Master Academy is a specialty online art academy that offers classes for character designs, digital painting, figure drawing, and perspective drawing. Classes are offered all four seasons, and the prices for each one is usually $699. If you plan on doing mostly digital art, this academy is suited for you. Go to http://2d.cgmasteracademy.com/ for more information.
SAW, or the Sequential Artists Workshop, is a Florida community of artists trying to improve their abilities through classes and workshops. They offer year-long art programs, weekly workshops, and online classes at random times of the year. To check their calendar, visit http://sequentialartistsworkshop.org/wordpress/. On Saturdays from January 12th to February 16th, 2016, SAW will offer a Teen Comics and Manga Class at their location in Gainesville, Florida (SE 5th Ave at Main St, behind Citizen’s Co-op).
Mad About Manga! is a manga course run by Malcolm Matheson. This course costs $97 to participate. For more information, please go to http://madaboutmanga.com/.
For those online and interested in traditional comic book creations, check out the Comics Workbook (http://comicsworkbook.tumblr.com/about). Not only do they offer lessons on sequential art, but they have a magazine as well.
Activity Hero offers San Francisco kids and teens art classes, including manga classes such as this Wednesday Cartooning and Manga Class for $325 (January 20th – March 16th, 2016). To enroll, check it out here.
Kudan Institute of Japanese Language and Culture offers a 1-month and 3-month program for learning how to make manga as well as learning Japanese. The cost is really high (over $1500 for the 1-month program), but it has a very realistic setting for aspiring manga creators for its short term. To look at the prices and course offerings (don’t mind the broken English), please go to http://www.kudan-japanese-school.com/en/manga_course.php . This site is great if you need Japanese fonts as well, which are hard to find for free and that work with your Japanese language settings. Update 12/8/2015 http://www.best-language-schools.com/pdf/1414685115778.pdf
If you ever drop by or live in Nakano, there is a small manga school that’s run by an artist named Chika. Though there may be a language barrier, as Chika isn’t fluent in English, many of her students say she’s a good teacher who works through the obstacle. 3 days costs 12,624 yen. Check it out at https://www.govoyagin.com/activities/learn-how-to-draw-japanese-manga/1375.
Another manga school in Nakano is the Manga School Nakano with Nao Yazawa’s How to Draw Manga Course in English. It is a free course for foreigners living in Nakano. See the schedule at http://www.nakanomangaschool.jp/english.html.
The Yokohama Design College has a 1- to 2-year program for manga with the goal for students to become cartoonists, assistants, and character designers. See their information in English here: (for manga) http://www.ydcjpn.ac.jp/eng/pro/manga.
The Center for Study Abroad has an Animated Cartoon Drawing and Conversation Course under Japanese Manga and Language in Tokyo. This course is offered throughout the year in either 1-month-long courses (around $1345) or 3-month-long courses (around $3545). The prices don’t include housing (around $250-$350 per week), but academic credit is available, so if you’re looking to fulfill your Study Abroad credits, this might help. Though 2015-2016 info: http://www.centerforstudyabroad.com/japanese-manga-language-tokyo/.
Courses around the World
For Indonesian residents, there’s the Dr. Vee Mangaka Club hosted by Dr. Vivian Wijaya (first professional Indonesian manga creator published in Shonen Sunday). For the calendar of events, please go to http://www.drveemangakaclub.com/.
Another Indonesian-based manga school is the Machiko Manga School run by, you guessed it, Machiko-sensei. This school has been recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia. This school also uses equipment and supplies directly imported from Japan. For more information, go to http://machikomangaschool.tumblr.com/en.