So, I just did a presentation today at a school in East Islip, Long Island. But it was for Middle and High School students, not my usual audience of elementary school kids (or librarians). I talked a great deal more about the broader comics field, and discussed how one gets into it.
The short answer: There's no magic bullet. This isn't like trying to become an MD or a CPA. It's sort of like achieving Buddhahood. Everyone's path is different. (Except Buddhas get a lot more sleep than cartoonists, I think. Pay's about the same.)
At any rate, though, there are schools out there that have begun to cater to the profession. Here are some quick links for students (middle and high-school) who are interested in pursuing a career in comics.
College-level instruction in Comics, Cartooning, and Graphic Novels:
- School of Visual Arts (NY) Offers a four-year BFA in Cartooning
- Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MN) Offers a four-year BFA in Comic Art
- The Center for Cartoon Studies (VT) Offers a One-Year Certificate Program and a Two-year MFA program. See a CCA grad's blog here.
- Emerson College (MA) Offers a Graphic Novel Writing & Illustration Certificate
- Rhode Island School of Design (RI) Offers several comics courses as part of a four-year Illustration BFA major
- Academy of Art University (CA) Its "Cartoon School" offers comics courses as part of a four-year Illustration BFA major
Information about life as a gag cartoonist:
Mike Lynch (1)
Mike Lynch (2)
Information about editorial cartooning:
Association of American Editorial Cartoonists