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State of the Arts: Cartoon U

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Originally published November 17, 2004.

The Center for Cartoon Studies won’t see its first students until next fall, but the White River Junction institution is already offering some top-drawer comics education. This Thursday, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon superstar Art Spiegelman drops by the Upper Valley for a two-part visit. That evening, he crosses the Connecticut River for a $100-a-head sequential-art soirée hosted by CCS cofounder and Hartland resident James Sturm.

Proceeds from the reception, which features a Q&A session, will go toward creating spaces for classrooms, labs, studios and a gallery in the 1929 Colodny Surprise Department Store. The appearance is the center’s first fundraising event, but Sturm says the school has already brought in about half of the $600,000 needed to open in September. One major donor is the widow of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz.

Expect hardy stock among the two-year school’s pioneering mix of 20 undergraduate and graduate students. The fi rst four applications, Sturm says, are graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell, Dartmouth and Bryn Mawr. Note to profs: Watch out that these high achievers don’t goof off in cartooning class by hiding Kant behind their comics.