I've been meaning to post about this ever since the event a few weeks again, but as usual, my time's constantly been eaten up. Nevertheless, better late than pregnant...
Some of you may have been affronted with a copy of my self-published book, Comics On Film And Television (I have about thirty updates to do plus an index and appendix before I hopefully push out a second edition later this year). While the book was at the printers at Fallen Angel Media, I received an e-mail asking if I'd like to develop the book into a talk for two small press expos.
My immediate reaction was "Waaaahhhhhh!!!" Talk in public? To people? People I don't KNOW? Me?? I felt nothing but panic and fear at the whole thought of it...yet...yet there was still a sensible part of me that realised that this was a cool opportunity, something different that not everybody gets to do.
I was undecided but eventually trusted friends and colleagues convinced me that I should do it and so I thought "Faggit, what the hell" and accepted the challenge.
I had nothing to gain other than the experience really: I only had two copies of the book left and they weren't priced to sell anyway, they were done as a way of exorcising a project (that was alot more involved than I expected) out of my system and not letting months of work go to waste.
I struggled with an angle until Tone suggested a Comics Adaptations Through The Ages Approach, which quickly started fizzing things together. I focused on American adaptations as time and brevity wouldn't enable me to cover EVERYthing in the allocated hour. I pulled out my book and started collating a timeline of comic adaptations, double checking details online to verify my already verified (but possibly still erroneous) research.
Pretty soon I had a year by year time frame (with the occasional hop back and forth through time) and started creating montage "stills" of the source comic and the screen versions, along with a ton of downloaded clips of various adaptations (seriously, you have to see some of Legends of the Superheroes to be truly horrified by such sights as Ghetto Man and Hawkman's papier mache wings, helmet and chest emblem, which peels off during an argument with Solomon Grundy attempting a disguise as a petrol pump attendant).
I figured that nearer the time, I'd start to panic and even though I was distracted by compiling the visual aids up until the day before the talk, I still felt pretty calm.
So, the day rolls around and Tone had travelled down via Brum and I met my pal Martin in Amersham: originally I had two more friends attending but they had to drop out at the last minute. Being girls with no real affinity for comics, I was disappointed they couldn't make it but felt that I could unwind a bit and not repress my Inner Geek. The trains and tubes were running amok but I carefully planned our route, which was time consuming but thankfully smooth and pleasant.
We finally rocked up at Goldsmith College and I asked for Mallory, who was to help me with the talk. I was told I couldn't miss her but I wasn't unsure, but sure enough, a tall tattooed Amazon with red hair tied in bunches was pretty easy to find amid a (remarkably comfortably well laid out) small press dealer hall.
I confessed that I had no idea if the talk would run long or shorten and that I had no experience talking in public. Mallory said not to worry as she had plenty of experience and would intro the talk but said to stay calm and keep the speech fairly slow: this simple trick helped me incredibly.
While Mallory guided us up to the talk room and tried to sort out the technical problems with the visual support (the projector seemed to miss images and we had to switch to a laptop that was crystal sharp but was Mac-based and caused some delays), I set out my drink on my table at the front of the room and leafed through my 30-odd pages of notes. I was expecting to use this as a reference point but ultimately never actually referred to it (though I glanced at it once).
As I'd created the visual files to accompany the adaptations, they ran in the correct order and I just talked about each project as they came on screen, with Mallory scrolling through at my prompt.
Finally, time turned against us: the delays in setting up and the sheer number of topics meant that I had to steamroll through the late 90s into the 200s, finally having to be cut short around 2004 (I had planned up till 2008).
Amazingly, I never did develop that final flush of fear and seemed to cope okay. Afterwards, Martin or Tone asked me how I felt it went and I couldn't really answer. I gave the talk but it wasn't for me to say: it was a good turn out, only one person left when we overran, there were a few laughs and some audience interaction so I THINK it went well, but it's not my place to say.
However, I've just had an invite to repeat the talk at the Bristol Comic show in May so it can't have been a total disaster. Public transport willing, looks like I'll get to do an encore in a few short weeks...