Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kubert School Flashback - I

I've been planning to write a series of anecdotes regarding my time at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc. for a while now.  Here's to getting off one's ass!

I attended Kubert's from September, 2001 through to graduation in May of 2004.  At the time, the way the school worked was that everyone in the First Year class took the same courses.  After that, you chose to specialize in either Illustration or Animation for your remaining two years.

We had two classes a day, ten for the week.  It was a huge workload.  I can't remember all of the courses, but I'll see what comes to mind from that first year:

Basic Drawing
Narrative Art I
Paste-ups & Mechanicals
Methods & Materials I
Intro to Animation
Life Drawing I
Layout and Design.
Humor and Caricature

Hmm...drawin' a blank for the last one.  Maybe Layout and Design were separate classes?

Anyhoo, you can see there was a lot to work on.

For First Year students, there was student housing available.  There were three locations you might end up in: The Mansion, The Carriage House, or The Clinton House.  I'll keep most of my comments to "The Mansion", since that was where I stayed.

I remember my first day pretty clearly.  I was assigned to The Mansion, but they didn't assign you a specific room.  The house was pretty grand, if a bit dated; a three story brick building on a good bit of land.  It had a pool (empty), plenty of room, industrial carpeting, and the pervasive smell of dust.

For some reason, when I enter a new house, I need to go upstairs.  It's like a curiosity mixed with a need to be at the top.  I dunno why.  So, I ended up on the third floor in one of the largest rooms of the house.  Because it was so big, I shared it with two roommates: Chad Wyrwicz and Steve Talaba.  Chad was there when I go there; a tall, gregarious, and excitable fellow wearing a black Thundercats T-shirt. 

I thought, "I am among my kind."

That was before Chad began moving his bed into the closet, but that's a tale for another post.

For this post, I'd like to relate a tale of Tanner, our maintenance guy.  He was like a cross between Schneider on "One Day at a Time" and Grizzly Adams.  Toss in a Jersey accent, and you got it.

Now Tanner had a real gruff manner; he said what he meant and didn't have time for too much artsy-fartsy crap.  He was ornery.  He was rough around the edges.  He was hilarious.

This story actually took place during our second year, where one of the three of our class that went on to animation, Tony Doench, became an RA at The Mansion.  A few of us were hanging out in Tony's room as kids were moving in and getting situated.  At one point Tanner walks by and one of us says, "How's it going, Tanner?"

We expected a grunt, or maybe a, "It's going."

Instead, he stops and talks to us.  Apparently, now that we've survived a year at the school, we are worthy of conversation.

"These new kids, man...I dunno," he starts off, shaking his head, "and their PARENTS.  This one kid's mom, apparently she don't like the look o' the town as they're drivin' in.  She says to me, ' it safe for my kid to walk to school?'"

He gives us a look like, "These mooks, am I right?"

"So I says to her, I says, 'Lady, I got three words for ya: LOCK AND LOAD.'"  He makes a pistol with his hand, firing off randomly as he leaves yelling, "LOCK AND LOAD LADY!"

I have absolutely no doubt he actually said this to a student's mom. 

I remember this clearly because, up until this point, Tanner was there to fix stuff, complain about fixing stuff, and warn us not to make him have to fix stuff.  I'll have to pick Tony's brain for more Tanner stories, as he spent more time in The Mansion than the rest of us.

Next up: Why is Chad living in the closet? (No, no, the literal closet, not the figurative one.)

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