Thursday, December 08, 2005

talking comics at xavier

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I few days ago, Nikki and I were given the wonderful opportunity to talk to 5th, 6th and 7th graders of Xavier School, as part of the school's Author Visit program. The invitation, given by our librarian friend Zarah, was something I'd didn't have to think twice about (unless terrible work schedule interfered) because I relish chances to talk about comics and writing (only the act of writing needs to be solitary; afterwards, it's better to get out there and talk to readers and writers).

I prepared three power points (which I later condensed into one presentation) tackling the history and heritage of Filipino comics (how I wish I were Gerry Alanguilan instead whose advocacy and passion for this topic is expressed in his near-encyclopedic knowledge), the multi-step process of putting together a comic book and general guidelines I follow when writing comics (or just about anything). I'm glad I took the extra time to pepper my slides with various comic book artwork, logos and symbols to illustrate my point - it became a side-game for the kids to identity what was what.

I am used to public speaking and have addressed audiences of various sizes and compositions throughout my life, but this was my first time to speak to a large group of 11-13 year old boys - and it was quite different from what I expected. I was concerned that much of what I was saying was not of specific interest to them, but as soon as the formal session ended, several waves of kids came up to ask questions of all sorts(maybe they were intimidated by the formal Q&A), show artwork, talk about writing, and of course, comics. If even just one of these boys grows up to produce a comic book or a work of speculative fiction, I'll be ecstatic (hope rears its head whenever I give a talk like this, and, at the end of the day, you can only hope for the best anyway).

Before and after the talk, I was interviewed for the school website and I took the chance to expound on several key elements of my advocacy. While I believe in and fully spoort the creaiton of Filipino comics, one of my goals is to raise the bar in terms of quality and storytelling - to create literature that in time can stand toe-to-toe with the corpus of Philippine letters. I also wanted to show that creating a comic book is not an easy task, that in the multiple steps that are necessary, it takes discipline and drive. Creativity is not enough, after all, given the fact that production, marketing, distribution, collection, publicity and more are part of business plan. And finally, how important it is for me that people read in the first place, whether comics or books or whatever, as long as begin to read and continue to read.

Read School Librarian in Action for Zarah's take on our visit. Thanks again, Zarah!


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