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Michael DeForge Brings New Project 'Sticks Angelica' to Cambridge

Reading of Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero
Michael DeForge reads from his comic book, “Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero”, a series of one-page adventures about Sticks Angelica.
On Tuesday, March 27, dozens of fans packed into the Harvard Book Store to see writer and illustrator Michael DeForge give a presentation on his newly released graphic novel, “Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero.” The event consisted of a comic book reading, a musical performance from guest Sadie Dupuis, and a question-and-answer session.

DeForge kicked off the presentation by reading a couple of short comics from his past work. The author’s signature style, most notably his snappy writing, sexually explicit subject matter, and simplistic drawings, was on display in all the comics he shared with the audience. DeForge intentionally read his creatively uncomfortable yet funny work in a quick, emotionless manner, eliciting roars of laughter from the audience members.

Dupuis followed up DeForge’s readings with a few poems and songs. The poems, which were abstract, complex, and relatable, had people in the audience bowing their heads down in deep thought. Dupuis’ music was more thoughtful and reflective, a nice contrast to DeForge’s more lighthearted work.

DeForge wrapped up the presentation by taking questions from his fans in the audience and revealing a bit about his work behind the scenes. He wakes up early every day and goes to sleep pretty late, after he finishes all of his work. Since he is currently a designer on Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time,” his schedule is always busy. He writes comics on the side, seeing them more as passion projects. “I don’t write with an audience in mind, except for different versions of myself,” he said. “It’s weird to think about what other people like, and there would be too many audiences to try and satisfy.” This is perfectly all right for DeForge, because he doesn’t have to worry about his comics making money—that comes from his work on “Adventure Time.” “My ‘Adventure Time’ job ends in three days, so that’ll become a problem soon,” he joked.

DeForge says he typically doesn’t have a set process for writing and illustrating his comics. He usually writes and draws at the same time, putting down whatever comes to his mind. Much of DeForge’s work is inspired by his interests. “I think biology and world-building is really fun … It’s why you see a lot of forests in my comics.” His work is also inspired by his past. “I feel like if I keep on readdressing these key moments in my life, then when I die, my work will have a fuller picture of what I was trying to convey about my life,” he said. DeForge is cautious about these recurring ideas, though. He is very careful about walking the fine line between having consistent themes in all his work and simply being repetitive.

Before allowing his fans to come up to his table for book signing, DeForge encouraged everyone to buy a copy of “Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero,” assuring the audience that the comic book was unlike anything he had written before. “It’s still thematically very similar to my other work, but this is more like something I would want to read in my young adult years. It’s definitely for a much wider audience,” he said.

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