Comic books are finally accepted in mainstream media after years as an afterthought in the world of literature circles, according to a Lower Mainland university professor.

Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s continuing studies program offers five courses that teach students how to put their own words and ideas into panels and thought bubbles.

Julian Lawrence, who teaches two graphic novel courses at the university, attributes the continuing development of the classes to the increased acceptance of comics in the mainstream.

When Lawrence was attending university some 20 years ago, there were no courses available for him to fulfill his desire of drawing comics.

“I was really encountering a lot of resistance from profs because I wanted to do comics and do something that was more representational and illustrative,” said Lawrence. “I’ve always found comics to be a great way of artists being able to make a personal statement.”

Lawrence teaches both a first-level and second-level course, the former being an introduction to comics and the latter exploring digital production.

“We talk about the history of graphic novels and comic books,” Lawrence said about his level one class. “We talk about some of the techniques and skills that you need to create characters, tell stories and basic drawing techniques such as perspective, composition and layout.”

The second-level course is for students who want to upload their work to blogs or webpages.

“It deals with taking the pen and paper artwork and bringing it to the digital domain,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said the students attending his class range from “18-year-old students who are really into comics because that’s what they read as a kid, to elementary or high school teachers who want to learn about it and integrate it into their classrooms.”

“The students that I’m teaching; some of them do get into it as a career, some of them want to learn about the art form itself, and some of them have story ideas and think that it's a good venue for expressing ideas,” he said.

Lawrence said that graphic novels can not only succeed in a university setting, but in a high school and elementary one as well.

“Comic books in high schools and elementary schools is a great way of increasing comprehension and engaging students' learning,” said Lawrence.

“I’m really glad to see that comics are being accepted as a genuine art form,” said Lawrence.

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