Thursday, May 1, 2014
Mark Crilley Visits NJ! Part One
For over a year I have been working to have a wonderful artist and author visit my students here in NJ. His name is Mark Crilley, and if you don't know who he is, I bet your students do. He is a graphic novelist with lots of titles for children and young adults, a series of How to Draw Manga books, not to mention his YouTube channel which has over one million subscribers who visit to see his many how-to-draw videos.
So it all began with my private students who were joining me for Manga Club. I had run quite a few of these classes and they were very popular. As we went along I decided to show a tutorial or two from Mr. Crilley's YouTube channel on my computer in the studio. The kids loved his style and we began reading his series Miki Falls, Brody's Ghost, and Akiko. I also purchased his How to Draw books for the lending library in the studio.
During one of his videos he discussed his visiting author presentations, and how from time to time students worked with their local library or school to arrange one. My students were excited and determined to give it their all, so I said I would help them. How hard could it be? Libraries and schools have visiting authors and educational programs all the time, right? To say our efforts were not immediately rewarded is an understatement. Our first step was a letter writing campaign. We wrote to all of our local libraries, and to the principal and media specialist of every school that my students were attending. All of my students signed them with me and off they went in the mail. Nothing. After a few weeks we tried again, all of the kids signing and helping me to mail our requests for a second round. No response.
A few days later I stopped at the local library to return some books, and decided to ask for the director. She saw me only to tell me that she never gets her mail and that she didn't have any money. Frankly I was shocked. I said it was unfortunate that she never gets any mail, because her youngest patrons took the time to write and sign letters addressed to her on two different occasions. I asked her if she would be willing to let us have a fundraiser, or would she at least let us use the library as the venue if and when we were able to arrange the visit on our own. She declined. Unfortunately we did not pursue the public library route any further. This particular library even had copies of Mark Crilley's works on the shelves! It was so disheartening, and I wasn't sure what more I could do to make this happen for the kids.
My oldest daughter and two school media specialists finally gave us the power and direction we needed! One media specialist let me know that our local PTA usually fund programs like the one we were hoping for and suggested that we contact them. My daughter who attends middle school had mentioned to some classmates that she was trying to get Mark Crilley to visit our town, and was surprised to find out how many kids knew who he was and that they wanted the same thing! A few days later, she had a petition with a couple of hundred signatures on it requesting that he visit! She submitted it to her media specialist who was excited to give it a try! Hurray! The wheels were in motion!
Did we manage a visit from Mark Crilley?
Look for my next entry to read the rest of the story!