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Submitted on
April 10


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Hey all!


I should have written something sooner regarding the Murphy Apprenticeship (where I took 5 students into my house in Maine and taught them comics for 2 weeks). Mostly I think I wanted to let the experience settle in before saying much about it. And now that I've had a few weeks back to my real life in NYC, I think I'm ready to post.


For photos and a student's perspective on the Murphy Apprenticeship, check out Tana Ford's page:…

Here are the names of the students for the 2014 winter session (along with their Twitter):


Tana Ford

Corin Howell

Jorge Coelho…

Clay McCormack…

Stephen Green


I caught a lucky break for this first session: 5 talented students who were already at publishing levels. Clay and Stephen I'd met before, and knew they'd be considerate house guests who were motivated to complete the work I gave them. Corin I'd met briefly at NYCC--I respected that she sought me out via my autograph line to say hello. Jorge was already a working pro for Boom! Studios, so that was a no-brainer. And lastly there was Tana, who's enthusiasm was obvious even over Skype.

But the biggest part of the Apprenticeship was my wife, Colleen Katana. Not only did she cook for us and run errands while I taught, she also gave up her husband for two weeks while I focused on giving everything to the students.  

We spent a lot of time together. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, trips to Walmart, pub crawling, watching movies, learning from our guests (Klaus Janson, Fiona Staples, Becky Cloonan and Scott Snyder), and not to mention drawing Cafe Racer pages for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. I kept waiting for a blowout to happen, but it never did.


Well, there were a few heated discussions about GMOs, religion and women's rights, but we settled like adults. :)

It was exhausting, but completely fulfilling. I'd start each day with a lesson, stuff ranging from perspective tips to how to manage taxes. At one point I was able to help a student negotiate a higher page rate on a gig they were offered--the extra money they'll make MORE than pays for the cost of the Apprenticeship.

I'm not a very patient person, and to be frank, I never had any desire to teach professionally. But I do have the gene in me, otherwise I'd never write those long journals where I get teaching off my chest. I'll do it a handful of times per year as an invited guest, and I've had vague offers to teach at a few different colleges, but it never take time away from comics. The most I ever learned about art was from apprentice type relationships, not from overpriced colleges. So I always knew that if I DID ever teach, it would have to be on my own terms with a selected group of hand-selected students who would absorb the information fully (rather than teaching 30 college students, 80% of whom don't have the chops). And that's what the house in Maine allowed me.


As much as the students got out of it, I got more from them. My wife and I can't have children, so doing this was a chance to fill that need to give back and imprint on other human beings, even if most of them were my age. Having 5 people live with you in an intensive environment with lack of sleep is a great way to start a cult, so I was careful to separate fact from opinion. I was happy to have students challenge me, which they did. I also tried to be clear that my path wasn't the only path--each student would have a unique career, and part of that would mean ignoring some of my advice. Which was fine.


Watching them leave was hard. Each time one left, another drawing table was cleared off in the studio, which made me sad. And when it was over, I realized the chances of us all ever being in the same room together again was zero.

The final artwork of Cafe Racer is all turned in, and we're working on getting the book out very soon (as soon as I'm done my set of 10 pages). As far as the Kickstarter deadline and getting copies of Cafe Racer, we're going to be a little late because of my Wake schedule--which is completely on ME and not on any of the students. It'll be out when summer begins, and rest assured I'll post another journal when copies are available for purchase.


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Megamanx95 Featured By Owner May 20, 2014
I hope I can get in Next Yeaarrrrrrrr daaaaammmmmmm
EMPAYAcomics Featured By Owner May 19, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Even just reading about this is so amazing :) Looking forward to the final book and new journals, inspired by this experience. Thank you for giving back to community.
Dreamerwstcoast Featured By Owner May 11, 2014   Traditional Artist
SMG: The First Class
artistjerrybennett Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014  Professional General Artist
That seemed like a very cool experience, and was glad to hear it went well for all of you. Congratulations.
moray-eel Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014
I commend you - it's a very admirable thing you have done and I wish that there were more artists willing to  give back to the next generation (or this current generation) of comic book artists.
DEVMALYA Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
That sounds like such a great experience. Ill definitely be applying again next time.. I have been following the progress of the apprenticeship all through, but this is the first time I have seen your perspective on it. Thanks for creating such an amazing oppurtunity for artists to learn and grow in such a short time. Absolutely agree with you on the selected students who absorb most of what you teach them,  rather than filled classrooms where most dont know how to make it. Do keep us fans updated on the next apprenticeship, cause if I was sold on it before, im even solder now :P
oagarciacruz Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014  Hobbyist
Amazing, thanks for sharing.
johnchalos Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014  Professional General Artist
Awesome. Hey, that stuff about taxes would make an informative blog post, eh?
Stephen-Green Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014
READERS: you should DEFINITELY apply. Sean has a real gift for teaching, and he's a really great dude. I learned so much stuff from him, I didn't even mind that he cheats at Street Fighter. I'm so grateful I got to be a part of this beautiful book. One of the best times I ever had. 
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014
Dude, I didn't know Petevaldez was you?!
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