About Rock School

A long time ago, I played in a band called The Bags. We were together from 1985 until 1991. (We reformed in 2004 for more recording and occasional shows.) Anyway, after we broke up I was trying to get work as an illustrator and needed examples of published artwork in my portfolio. So I approached T Max, the publisher of a Boston area music mag called The Noise. I showed him a few strips I made and he said he’d publish them. I was psyched! The comic, which I hastily decided to call Rock School, was based on my experience with The Bags. The first installment appeared in July 1992. Now here it is, 2013. It’s been over 20 years and Rock School still appears in The Noise every month. Which is a miracle – I can’t believe there’s still a printed magazine in 2013.

By the late 90’s I had developed some skills as a creator of “multimedia,” and started rockschool.com as a venue for animated Shockwave/Flash “lessons” and “activities” (you can find a few examples via the Old Animations menu, above). The site was successful, for a while, in a dotcom sort of way. It won a bunch of awards, and earned money via licensed Rock School content to portals and also via banner ads. Eventually I got tired of developing Rock School for Flash. The site became inactive for years as a result. But I still kept cranking out the monthly black and white strip for The Noise. I haven’t counted how many strips there are. Probably close to 200.

Pre-ink

I get emails from students and parents of students who think Rock School is a real school. It’s not. It’s a comic strip about “the ins, the outs, the ups, the downs, the power, the glory, and the potential humiliation of playing in a local rock band.” Some of the strips feature the Rock School Professor, a fat dude who teaches key concepts via demonstrations by the Rock School every band. You’ll notice that the three guys have no names, nor does their band. They have no names because they are you.

The strip is not really about rock music. It’s about the other stuff that comes with playing in a band. In some cases, this includes swearing and partying your brains out. Sorry if it offends. The fact is, anyone who’s played in a band for a while can see that Rock School is like Sesame Street compared to what goes on in the real world – I decided early on that Rock School should be more PG-13 than NC-17. I also decided to keep the Rock School world fairly fictional. The band names and clubs and people who appear in the strip are works of fiction. Some may resemble bands/clubs/people from the real world. Or not. Depends.

Times have changed since the strip began, in 1992. Gone are the days of cassette demos and calling club owners on rotary phones. Some of the older strips are about logistical things that are no longer relevant in 2013. This is probably why most of the newer strips tend to be about interpersonal dilemmas within the Rock School band. The times may keep changing, but suffering your bandmates is eternal.

Thank you to all the Rock School fans and supporters from over the years. Hope you like this site redo. I’ll try to keep posting regularly, either with new strips or old. Feel free to comment on the site, or write me: cwood at rockschool dot com.


Crispin Wood