Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I might as well commence my blog with some drama and emotion.

I was part of the first-ever class (aka the Pioneers) at The Center for Cartoon Studies. I had the honor of being appointed the student-speaker for the commencement ceremony.

Our iconic class photo from the CCS files.


Words of Encouragement for the First Commencement of The Center for Cartoon Studies

by Ross Wood Studlar, May 2007

Although unworthy to lift the enchanted hammer of Thor, I have nonetheless been appointed to speak on this momentous occasion, the first commencement ceremony ever for The Center for Cartoon Studies. Colleagues at this institution have told me that they would elicit my aid in the event of a zombie invasion. In either case, I can only make my best effort to respond to the challenge.

The persons gathered here are on a quest, different yet similar to the quest undertaken by Sam Gaskin's character Pizza Wizard, who searches far and wide for the Magic Pizza. He encounters
the Peace-Shaman of the Pepperoni Village, who tells him:

“The answer is simple, my son! To find anything, one must search within oneself!


Listen to the Peace-Shaman, my friends. Although the cartoon school can teach you craft, your magic pizza can only come from within.

Your life was your true cartoon school; your life has forged your soul; share that soul and its wisdom with your generation and the next. I advise using a nib or brush on bristol of two-ply or thicker. Lettering is best done on a separate layer, with help from an Ames lettering guide; computer fonts compromise expressiveness, but still have their uses. Space will be allowed at the end of this talk for those who wish to rebuke me and explain the superiority of felt-tip pens, or how fonts ruin comics.

Sometimes I wonder if I am truly worthy to wield the nib and brush and copier. Spider-Man, after obtaining his extraordinary powers, learned the hard way that “with great power must come great responsibility.”

And the persons gathered here have great power. Super power. We cannot fly, or lift a battleship, or shrink to the size of an atom, or engage ten ninjas in hand to hand combat simultaneously and win; ours is the power of media—the power of the image and word. And media influences people, affects their perception of reality and their major life decisions.

I advise us all to consider power and responsibility as we proceed to create media, and find a way to share it with the world. Mocca is a good place to start, and so is

And if that zombie invasion does occur, call me. I am against owning guns, but can contribute my
ever-present backpack full of gear and rations, as well as my first aid and survival skills, and my limited martial arts training. I may recruit Eugene Christophe, who could bicycle to distant havens with a distress-call. Petal could also be a vital asset, for she could distract the zombies by... well, by being Petal. And if Vagner was guilty, imagine if we could get his vicious corpse on OUR team. Meanwhile, the residents of Gates Street are too despondent to even notice that a zombie invasion is occurring. And the stars of Tragic Relief have other... business... to attend to before dealing with zombies becomes pertinent. And Alex and his buddies, feeling the Dead Air, have not yet been able to muster the motivation to do anything about the zombie threat.

Perhaps I am drifting off into my dreamland, which, like yours, is now populated by that which emerged from the pens and minds of my fellow CCSers. You don't need to read about an uprising over Danish cartoons to feel the power of cartooning; I can feel it here, now. Feel it? Perhaps this is all nonsense, perhaps not. You decide. As James Sturm famously said, “at the end of the day, it's all just grist for the mill.”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this, Ross. It still brings a tear to my eye.