Early today (9:00 AM) I went to Norris Hall for my 45 hour review. The 45 hour review is the midway point for people attempting their MFA, and is kind of hush hush around Norris Hall. Ask any 10 grads who've already had their review, and you'll get wildly differing stories. It's hard for a grad preparing for their review to know what to expect, and asking the professors can often yield disappointing results.
The first time you go for your 45 hour review, it is both a big deal and nothing to worry about. You get two chances to pass your review (unless they just ask you to leave the program), and many graduate students don't pass it on their first go round. If you don't pass your 45 hour review the first time, it holds up your progress in the grad program, because you can't take thesis or Studios III or IV. Many of the grads who entered the program prior to the introduction of the intensive classes (AKA SEQA Bootcamp), failed to pass their first review because they simply didn't have enough pages. Enough pages is really subjective, for finished (lettered inks) pages, I had 1 two page deconstruction comic, 2 image/text related strips, 1 eight page mini comic, 1 3 page anthology entry, 10 pages of RSG chapter 2, the first 12 pages of Foiled, 1 four page mini comic, the 2 text in environment panels I recently posted, the mini 8 page comic, and the commissions I have been holding til after my review, and the watercolor cover illustration for my next mini book (thank you guys so much for your patience! I will mail them out Monday! Keeping them made a difference, IMO, and I know I have two more left to do), plus classwork, process work, and all of my sketchbooks, amounting to 12 classes of work. I was encouraged to spread my work over ALL of the tables in the room to give my three reviewing professors ample room to flip through things.
I'd been warned ahead of time that if you pass your review, they'll be really critical DURING the review, so I was a little nervous at how nice and encouraging they were. Of course, they pointed out things that were wrong (as I'd hoped they would, a 45 hour review is really just a general crit on your progress as an artist, and it's a great opportunity to learn), but they seemed to have faith in me and my future as a comic artist. The only thing that really threw me were questions about my future- I've recently shifted from wanting to do webcomics to wanting to mainly do print comics (mostly due to the demographics and how artists are treated in both circles), and I haven't quite figured out the next five years of my life yet, and the only real complaint was that I was thinking too small. I think part of my problem is that I'm just not aware of what non-comic companies are looking to print comics for kids and young teens (the demographics I really want to write and draw for), and I know that some companies started to print comics and then realized it wasn't lucrative enough to be worth it, and withdrew their offers. After they'd talked to me and figured out what I wanted from my career, they requested that I leave so they could discuss my work and decide my fate. It didn't take too long to let me know that I'd passed, but if it takes them awhile to discuss your work, don't lose hope. Long or short deliberation times are no indication of pass or fail.
I'd decided before the review not to stress out about it, to simply prepare and put my faith in my higher power, and I'm glad I didn't allow myself to fret over it. I was prepared to fail, since I'll be attending the Tokyo Trip, it's obvious that SEQA doesn't find me a horrible blight and an embarassment, and of course, I am happy that I've passed. I encourage future MFA candidates to follow my example- sketch (A LOT, like all the time), always assign yourself a couple extra pages to do for your studio classes, and really throw yourself into your work. Practice perspective and anatomy, figure out what your problem drawing areas are and really target them. The review committee is mostly looking for improvement and ability to work, if you can prove that you're capable of both, then you have nothing to worry about. I wish you luck in your future reviews.
If you'd like to contribute your experience in your 45 hour review, please let me know. Keep in mind this isn't an avenue for venting, but merely me trying to help future SCAD students understand what's expected of them, and help them transition into a life here in Savannah. You don't have to say only positive things, but try to frame any negative comments you may have in a constructive and useful manner.
Friday, November 04, 2011
45 Hour Review Post
Vigilante comic artist, illustrator, and comic craft blogger at www.nattosoup.blogspot.com. I have an MFA from SCAD in Sequential Art, which means I'm highly educated in the art of drawing funny picture books. I specialize in comics aimed at young girls, and enjoy the finer things in life- seinen manga, whiney autobio graphic novels, and science fiction.