Calgary artist brings graphic novels alive at MRU
In October, MRU is offering an out-of-the-box new course in comics and graphic novels for those in Continuing Education
By Lexi Wright, Contributor
Beginning in October, Mount Royal University’s Continuing Education Program will be offering a certificate course on Comic and Graphic Novels.
The course is taught by artist and professor, Brian Batista, who says it’s nothing Mount Royal University, or even Calgary, has ever experienced before.
“In this comic book course, what we’re really trying to do is plant a creative seed, to show students that their creativity can grow. The umbrella of this course will help fuel all types of learners,” said Batista.
Batista currently teaches cartooning at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), as well as a comic book program for the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY). He also has a strong background in animation where he was the head instructor of a program called the Aboriginal Youth Animation Project run by the Quickdraw Animation Society.
“The USAY program is a heritage program where we want to teach how to have a voice for language and culture through comic books and graphic novels, “said Batista.
“We have an Aboriginal elder come up with the story and then the whole comic book is produced in English and Blackfoot. I’m acting like Stan Lee, I’m basically the editor.”
Unlike the cartooning course Batista teaches at ACAD, the course at Mount Royal University is much more inclusive for comic books and graphic novels and will cover everything from the conception of an idea to the script, to the finished cover page and even how to publish a comic.
“There’s a lot of art history in this course because history is important to how comic books were distributed. I start in the pre-history of comic books because if you know your history and how ideas came to be developed, you can pay homage to that and it can help you formulate new thoughts,” said Batista.
In addition to his many years of experience as an artist, Batista also teaches fine art courses from his Calgary studio, Atelier Artista.
“I run my art school in the daytime and the Continuing Education courses are offered at night. I think I work more than a doctor: I’m up at 6 a.m., start drawing at 7 a.m. and finish around 11 p.m. because in order to get one good drawing, you need to make 10,” said Batista.
Unique to Batista’s style as an artist is his passion for traditional art mediums. He still teaches hand coloring and hand inking because learning that way makes you think differently than learning with digital tools.
“In digital mediums, you sit down and you can do anything in the whole world and then you get writer’s block immediately, but if you’re limited by what your hand can stroke, then all of a sudden you have to become creatively innovative. Limitations are what make people creative.”
Being able to teach his dream course is not only an exciting opportunity, but Batista hopes his students will come out with the beginnings of a comic book that they are immensely proud of.
“You could go on Wikipedia and do as much research as you wanted on creating comics, but it’s much nicer to have things curated in front of you, almost like an art show. This course is not to learn about comic books, it’s “you’re going to make one.”
To find out more about the program, visit Continuing Education at mtroyal.ca/ProgramsCourses.