How to do what you love

Five classes to help you turn your obsession into a career.

Illustration: Kathryn Brazier

Comic-book junkie

Creating Independent Comics
Storytellers, doodlers, proficient draftspeople and voracious funnies readers are all welcome at this 12-week session, for which artist-instructor C.M. Butzer's only requirement (though he considers even that word too extreme) is a love of comics. His driving philosophy is that no one need wait to get themselves published, given the number of resources and self-promotion outlets that lie at one's fingertips. During the first hour of class, participants hear lectures on such topics as publishing routes—from small-batch zines to Web comics and the tried-and-true Xeroxes-in-a-binder method—and means of distribution, including festivals, indie bookstores and websites. Students spend the last two hours of each session working on their own creation (up to 12 pages) in an informal, workshoplike setting in which they focus on how best to tell their individual story. By the end of the class, each student comes away with an original comic book, as well as the means of publishing and distributing it. "It may not be their best work, or their longest," says Butzer. "But they'll have a book: a finished product." School of Visual Arts, 209 E 23rd St between Second and Third Aves (212-592-2000, Sept 19--Dec 12, Mon 6:30--9:30pm; $395.


Intermediate Bicycle Mechanics
The spike in urban bicycling these days is undeniable, and so is the need for two-wheeler know-how. The 3rd Ward course, taught by Left Coast transplant Steven Ma, has no prerequisites, but is ideal for those with basic bike maintenance skills and/or those who are mechanically inclined. It teaches students how to take a bicycle apart completely and put it back together, a complex set of skills that are necessary for any bike mechanic and that could jump-start a career as a bike-shop owner or even bicycle designer. "The key thing," says Ma, "is to keep practicing and learn the different sorts of brakes and other parts there are out there." The first class begins with the removal of a bottom bracket or headset, and thorough instruction on how to remove, clean, grease and repack the ball bearings within that particular part. Basics such as fixing a flat are covered during the first class as well, as is the complete dissection of brakes and a look at various brake types. The second class takes apart a fork or hub in a similar manner, but spends the majority of time demystifying derailleurs, with which casual bikers seem to have the most trouble, according to Ma. The last session shows participants how to true (straighten) a wheel by adjusting spoke tension, and also how to build a wheel from scratch, which involves an activity called lacing a rim, something Ma's students find particularly satisfying. "It's a bit like knitting," says Ma. 3rd Ward, 195 Morgan Ave at Stagg St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-715-4961, Three three-hour sessions $135, members $110, plus $25 materials fee. Check website for fall schedule.


Start Your Own Food Blog
Over the course of two workshop-style hours, instructor Brooke Parkhurst (author of Belle in the Big Apple and Just Married and Cooking, print spinoffs of her two successful blogs) helps aspiring food bloggers identify what makes them, their stories and their relationship to food utterly unique—in other words, find their niche. This, says Parkhurst, is key to launching a personal website that attracts readers and, potentially, the attention of magazine and book editors and even Hollywood producers. The course is most useful for those with an artistic sensibility, a love of both writing and photography, and if at all possible, experience in both disciplines. Parkhurst believes each post should reveal something about a person's character, and stresses that quality always trumps quantity. Students also get tips on how to find a Web designer with a sensibility compatible with their own, and what kind of platform to choose, including free sites like the one that kick-started her career. Time, she says, is the biggest and most important investment to make. "You have to look at the big picture. If you put your best work out there, the numbers will follow." Institute of Culinary Education, 50 W 23rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (800-522-4610, Sept 9, Nov 15 7--9pm; $75.

Crate digger

DJ Weekend Intensive
Electronic music and DJ school Dubspot's weekend workshop gives compulsive vinyl collectors and wanna-be DJs alike a solid overview of and immersion in the art of beat-matching: how to transition between or even blend two different tunes to create an entirely new piece of music. Without committing to a lengthy (and costly) class, participants learn what equipment a DJ needs, how to set it up, and the fundamentals of three deejaying techniques: old-school turntablism, plus two relatively new digital software programs, Serato and Traktor 3. If, by the end of Sunday's session, the music making has you wishing you'd made a more serious commitment, no worries: The course is the equivalent of the first segment of Dubstep's DJ Core program, meaning you can join the full-on intensive midsession without having to start over. Dubspot, 348 W 14th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-242-2100, Aug 13, 14; Aug 20, 21; Sept 10, 11; Sept 17, 18; Oct 8, 9; Oct 15, 16; Nov 5, 6; Nov 12, 13; Dec 10, 11; Dec 17, 18; 7--10pm. $195.


Book Manuscript Editing Workshop
NYU's fall workshop, taught by industry pro Vanessa Mobley (Crown Publishing), shares the tricks of the trade (some editing experience is required, preferably in books). Mobley leads the class through various approaches to manuscript editing, whether for general trade books or for specific fiction and nonfiction genres, such as historical fiction and suspense novels, and in the process addresses such distinctions as how literature and commercial fiction differ. Participants learn the ins and outs of writing an editorial letter, typically the first step in editing a piece of fiction, which suggests to the author ways of improving a manuscript's tone, point of view, structure, pacing and plotlines. Students get plenty of hands-on line-editing practice as well, and are encouraged to read as much literature as they can outside class time in order to gain a better understanding of what good writing is. Most challenging to book-editing newbies, says NYU-SCPS Publishing Center director Andrea Campbell, is maintaining a fundamental respect: for the author's narrative intent, voice and actual words. NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, 7 E 12th St between Fifth Ave and University Pl (212-998-7070, Departmental permission is required; e-mail or call 212-998-7150 for details. Exact class location will be e-mailed to participants. Oct 18--Dec 13, Tue 6:45--8:45pm; $595.

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