Apr 05 2008

In the Land of UFOs

Published by at 5:52 pm under appearances,Uncategorized

Or, My Author Visit to Roswell…

I’m writing most of this on the plane flight back from Roswell, NM, where I spent 3 full days doing author visits at the New Mexico Military Institute, the Sierra Middle School, and the Sidney Gutierrez Middle School. It was a good trip, although it was *definitely* hard work rather than fun.

The flight to Roswell took most of the day. My first flight left Boston at 2:20pm and I didn’t arrive until 10pm Mountain Time (midnight Eastern). I did manage to get a bit of work done on the way (books 7-8 of the Odyssey script, plus a couple of pages of layout).

My guest suite at NMMI was very spacious and comfortable. I’m not sure I would recommend the accommodations, though, because there’s a wake-up bugle at 6am and another (calling the cadets to drill?) a short while later. Also the water was the hardest I’ve ever encountered. It was almost impossible to get my soap to lather.

NMMI has students ranging from 7th grade to Junior College, and I worked with a lot of them. I did my standard comic workshop at least 6 times, my show&tell presentation in standard, short and long variations, and tried out several new demos and exercises. Every group had a different mix of artistic, rowdy, disciplined, sleepy, cooperative, and bored kids. Some of groups mixed 7th graders with seniors or Freshmen with JC’ers. The shot below is of my presentation open to all cadets and the public after school on Wednesday evening. The turnout was modest, and the cadets can be a bit of a tough audience, but it went reasonably well. Introducing me is the teacher who arranged the whole thing, Liz Boese.

presentation at NMMI

Here’s me presenting at the Gutierrez Middle School:

Gutierrez Middle school presentation

My basic workshop involves creative reinterpretation of a certain childhood nursery rhyme, and I do it along with the students:

yet another shot of my work on the whiteboard another shot of my work on the whiteboard

shot of my work on the whiteboard

Each day involved about 5 hours of work, and the rest of the time I was mostly resting, checking email, eating Mexican food, and sightseeing in Roswell. I went first to the alien museum, which is 100% amateur. There’s actually some pretty interesting information about the various major UFO incidents, but it’s all presented as plain ol’ text on a wall plus a few black and white photos of the persons involved. They have various photos people have taken of UFOs, a few explanations of hoaxes, and some small dioramas of saucer crashes. Probably the coolest thing there was the alien autopsy diorama donated by a filmmaker who did a movie about Area 51 — for the movie they built a very realistic life-size rubber alien and an autopsy set. This now occupies a large glass case near the end of the museum. I couldn’t even find much in the way of good postcards in the gift shop, though I did buy a spiffy Roswell alien t-shirt.

I also went to the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, which is a very cool little place. They do year-long artist residencies there, so it’s filled with the work the residents have done over the years. Mostly representational, mostly quite good. I noted a bunch of names to look up later.

On the last day Liz took me for a drive out to the mountains, where it’s prettier than in town. Some of the parts of the river valley (what they call a river is more of a stream) actually reminded me of VT. The terrain around the highway looked like a lot of the reference I stared at endlessly for the Cars game. The mountains are cool though — literally as well as figuratively.

landscape on the outskirts of Roswell

hills about an hour outside of Roswell

mountains around Capitan

When I landed in Roswell it was nighttime (and cloudy), so i didn’t get to see much. On takeoff I was treated to an excellent view of miles and miles of barren desert, and then an interesting agricultural area. The fields are all circular, because apparently they irrigate them with a rotating pipe-arm sort of thing. After that, we came to a cool raised shelf in the land, similar to what I imagine the continental shelf looks like under the ocean. Oh, now we’re going over more circular fields. It looks like a polka-dot blanket (in reddish-brown, green, and burgundy). Well, time to crank out some more layouts. Signing off from the skies over New Mexico….

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