Speaking & Education

“In the past decade, my school has hosted many speakers, and Alexander Danner was the most enthusiastically received by both students and teachers.”
Doug Decker English Teacher, Nute High School

I enjoy speaking to audiences across a range of ages about the history and creation of comics and graphic novels, and am available for speaking engagements. In addition to teaching courses on comics and graphic novels for Emerson College since 2008, I have presented writing workshops for both teens and adults, in venues including schools, libraries, college classes, and literature festivals. I am also the co-author of two textbooks about comics and graphic novels:

  • Comics: A Global History, 1968 — Present (Thames & Hudson, 2014)
  • Character Design for Graphic Novels (Rotovision/Focal Press, 2007)

I am located in Cambridge, MA, primarily serving the Boston Metro Area, but am happy to travel throughout New England and New York. More information about my presentations, including details of some past events can be found below. For additional information, or to discuss a custom workshop for your organization, please contact me directly at alexander@twentysevenletters.com.

Presentation Formats
My presentation topics can be tailored to specific audiences or venues, but primarily focus on four areas:

  • Comics writing workshops for teens and adults
    We discuss approaches to scripting comics, address challenges and opportunities unique to the comics form, and engage in exercises designed to highlight specific skills and techniques
  • An overview of comics creation and industry practices
    The steps involved in creating comics, from script, to art, to production, including discussion of how the process has changed with the advent of new technologies, and how it might continue to change in the future. This includes discussion of common self-publishing practices.
  • The history of comics as an art and literature
    Focussing on particular regions or historical moments, as appropriate to the the client’s interests, discussion traces the evolution of comics itself, while also highlighting cross-pollination with other artistic and social movements. (For high school audiences in particular, I emphasize the interplay between the medium of comics and major concurrent historical events that influenced their contents.)
  • The value and practice of implementing comics in the classroom
    Professional development seminars for teachers and librarians, highlighting the value of using comics texts in the classroom, while also focussing on practical exercises to use with your students. Discussion includes techniques for both creative exercises and close-reading of visual texts.

Past engagements have included:

  • Guest lectures on the process of making comics to individual classes at Boston University and Harvard University.
  • Professional development lectures for teachers and librarians at Nute High School, and events hosted by The Foundation for Children’s Books and New England Comic Arts in the Classroom.
  • Teen comics writing workshops at The Cambridge Public Library, The Weymouth Public Library, and Wilmington Memorial Library.

Spotlight Event: Nute High School
In 2014, the Milton Free Public Library of Milton Mills, NH invited me to lead the entire student body of Nute High School through a full day of educational comics programs, funded by a Community Grant from the state of NH. I began the day with an all school assembly, delivering a history of American comics in the 20th century, contextualizing the major shifts in the art form with concurrent historical events that influenced them, such as prohibition, World War II, and The Red Scare. I then met with six individual classes, grades 6 – 12, including creative writing, art studio, and AP English focuses, to lead students through the close reading of a comics story, followed by introduction to creative techniques and exercises for making their own comics. I ended the day with a session specifically for faculty, explaining my exercises and approaches to teaching comics, for which faculty in attendance received professional development credits. The final component of this event was a collection development project to benefit the library: a portion of the grant was assigned for purchasing new materials to be added to the permanent collection, which I selected and procured for the library.

“In the past decade, my school has hosted many speakers, and Alexander Danner was the most enthusiastically received by both students and teachers. His school-wide presentation was engaging. Part of it explained how comics reflected the history of the 20th century, an entertaining way to study modern history. His workshops were appropriate for his audiences and varied for the age and interest. Several students returned to speak to Mr. Danner or sit in on another of his workshops. My school benefitted from Mr. Danner’s visit.”
Doug Decker English Teacher, Nute High School

 

“The Friends of the Milton Free Public Library gave Alexander Danner a tall order. Mr. Danner was asked to design a day-long program to introduce local middle and high school students to graphic novels. We asked that he begin with an all-school lecture, then speak to smaller groups throughout the day, and finally speak to the teachers. Throughout the entire process, Mr. Danner was patient and professional, keeping us informed of plans, asking questions when we were unclear, then presenting a wonderful, age-appropriate program. The students were excited to try their hands at writing in this style, and teachers learned ways to incorporate graphic novels into the classroom to engage both reluctant readers and those interested in illustrating. In addition to his presentations, Mr Danner also curated a collection of graphic novels for the Milton Free Public Library, vastly expanding our collection. His thoughtful selections are suited for a wide range of ages and interests. I am thankful for this selection and am happy to include it in our permanent collection.”
Betsy Baker, Director, Milton Free Public Library

Additional Credentials
I currently teach online courses in Writing the Graphic Novel and The Graphic Novel as Literature for Emerson College’s Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs, as part of the certificate program in Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel. I received my MFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in 2005.

Fees
My fees are flexible, according to the length and complexity of the presentation requested, as well as in consideration for institutional resources and travel requirements.