Authors Nicole Georges and Cassie Sneider began their book tour roughly one month ago at the Los Angeles Zine Fest. A rented Toyota Prius transported the pair to 26 libraries, bookstores and college campuses across the country. On day 26 of 27, the tour arrived in New Paltz.
Georges and Sneider participated in three events last Thursday — readings of their recent memoirs at the Sojourner Truth Library and Inquiring Minds bookstore and a workshop for students in Jacobson Faculty Tower.
“It wasn’t uncommon to see Cradle of Filth shirts with crucified animals or naked women, the uncensored wardrobe of true liberty, coming in increments of $5.35 an hour,” Sneider read aloud from her book “Fine Fine Music” to a group of roughly 30 in the Sojourner Truth lobby.
“Fine Fine Music” is about “growing in Long Island, getting into rock n’ roll and working minimum wage jobs,” Sneider said.
A self-described “weirdo,” she said it’s all those “other [menial] jobs that make you feel human.”
She read the chapter “Turn the Page” — a story of her return to Long Island between book tours and a return to the Borders where she once worked retail.
Sneider interwove reflections of “people-watching” bookstore regulars — often annoying, “at my job, they don’t ever flush,” and occasionally humorous — with scenes from time spent in circles of contentious writers at the Queens Poetry Society.
She read in the voice of her characters, underscoring the mood with her differentiating tones and tactical pauses.
Georges spoke next.
She works as a pet portrait artist in Portland, Ore. She incorporated pictures of her animal illustrations at the start of a slideshow, comprised mostly of clips from her book: a graphic memoir titled “Calling Dr. Laura.”
The book is the story of Georges’ discovery that her father, who she believed to be dead since she was a child, was alive.
Georges, “a radical feminist who likes to take in right wing talk radio,” said she turned to conservative radio personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger for advice on how to confront the family who lied to her.
The complete transcript of Georges’ phone call to The Dr. Laura Program is included in her book.
Georges’ illustrations projected onto the lobby wall set the scene for her to narrate the dialogue.
She spoke as herself and Sneider was asked to read the part of Dr. Laura.
Associate Professor of English and Composition Program Director Pauline Uchmanowicz worked with Sojournor Truth Outreach Librarian Morgan Gwenwald to bring Georges and Sneider to the New Paltz campus.
Uchmanowicz has taught a graphic literature class at the college since 2006. She said comics and visual narratives, “literary comics for an intelligent audience,” have increased in popularity.
“Had I proposed the class in 1990, it would have been difficult,” Uchmanowicz said.
But she said the medium remains a brand new industry where writers have to self-publish and create a fan base.
Before major U.S. publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published “Calling Dr. Laura” in January, Georges self-published 19 issues of her comic-based zine Invisible Summer.
At the workshop held in Jacobson Faculty Tower, Georges answered student questions about how to get their work noticed.
“People published me because I published myself first,” Georges said.
Georges said she learned about zines through her interest in ska music, a genre she called “an unfortunate blend of punk and reggae.”
Inspired by music fanzines at age 16, she published her own, more autobiographical piece about her friends and her job as a “sandwich artist” at Subway.
Georges said she believes people respond to work that’s personal.
“All people want is a little human connection,” Georges said.
Her advice for those considering self-publishing are “A. Do it. And B. Make 50 copies.”
“You have to get yourself out there,” Georges said. “Don’t wait for someone else to tell your story.”