Classroom Visit and Public Presentation

There’s something thrilling about presenting a new work in public for the first time–and I don’t mean “public” in the sense of posting to the internet, but actually standing in front of an audience, putting your work up in front of them, and talking about it.

I had opportunity to do this with Two for No yesterday, when I visited a classroom for advanced high school students completing a five week creative writing intensive at Emerson College. Part of their routine, through their full-day seminars, is a coffee hour guest speaker each day, representing the various genres of creative work the students are dabbling in. I, of course, was there to discuss comics and graphic novels.

The students were very energetic, engaged, and vocal, as was the instructor, making for a very welcoming and positive environment. (“Vocal” is especially valuable–some presenters don’t like to be interrupted, but I love feeling like my audience is earnestly engaging the work, and nothing achieves that like hearing them speak back to what I’m showing them. One of my favorite things about speaking with young people is they feel less need to “politely” stifle their vocalizations.)

After giving a little bit of general history of comics, I showed and discussed several of my past works, ending with my most recent, Two for No, which was the only piece I covered that I hadn’t discussed publicly before. And I found it to be an especially satisfying project to present to a group of ambitious, open-minded young writers. The idea of formally structured comics was something they hadn’t seen before, and they seemed genuinely intrigued by it. And that’s wonderful for me on two levels–both the sense that I was able to introduce young creative people to new possibilities in how to approach their own work, and in the validating sense that I’m working on something unique and worthwhile myself. It’s a truly rejuvenating experience.

Of course, it helps that I love public speaking in the first place. I recommend it!