Arrange a Visit With Mark Crilley

Send an e-mail to inquire about my rates and scheduling availability.

[NOTE: To cut down on spam I try not to put my e-mail address online; if the link fails to work, you can type out my e-mail address by putting markcrilleymail next to @ next to]

It is one of the great pleasures of my profession to visit schools and libraries in Michigan and throughout the country. If you are associated with a school or library and are interested in arranging one of my presentations, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me by clicking the link above.

My standard presentation involves doing a live drawing demonstration at an easel, often creating as many as three separate illustrations during a single session. A popular show-closer is the 'Thirty Second Drawing', in which I challenge myself to complete a high speed illustration; audience members are encouraged to count the seconds in unison!

All the drawings I do during my presentation are left behind and can be given away to audience members, or kept and framed by the library or school as a memento of the visit.

I also do lively readings from my books, adopting different voices for each of my characters, and going to great lengths to bring the scenes to life as vividly as possible. When I tell audience members at the start of a reading to "fasten your seatbelts," I mean it!

My presentations are more than just fun and games, though. Between the jokes and silly voices is an ample supply of information about writing and storytelling: The art of creating characters that really seem to live and breathe; The importance of putting conflict at the heart of a story; The parallels between students being asked to rewrite assignments and authors working on the second (or third or fourth!) draft of a manuscript.

My kids programs tend to be fast-paced and adapted to short attention spans, whereas in my teen programs I can focus a bit more on behind-the-scenes stories from my experiences as a writer/illustrator, as well as provide 'how-to' tips for aspiring writers and artists in the audience. I always try to tailor my program according to the requests of those arranging the visit.

I have no special requirements in regards to age groups; I am happy to speak before people of any age, and in groups of mixed ages as well. Group size is also not really an issue; I have spoken before very small groups and audiences numbering in the hundreds, and enjoy them equally.

A number of libraries and schools have hired me to lead cartooning workshops, in which attendees get to see firsthand the techniques I use in my illustrations, then immediately put them to use, creating drawings of their own during a one-to-two-hour session. Depending on the size of the group (determined by the venue), everyone in attendance is guaranteed quite a lot of one-on-one instruction.

I have spoken at more than 600 venues since 2001, including:

Ann Arbor Public Library, MI
Abbot Middle School, MI
Arts & Technology Academy, Pontiac
Baldwin Public Library, MI
Beagle Middle School, MI
Bangor Public Schools, MI
Bay City Public Schools, MI
Bedford Branch Library, MI
Blue Ridge Regional Library, VA
Canton Public Library, MI
Capital Area District Library, MI
Chippewa Valley Schools, District Tour
Clarkston Public Schools, District Tour
Chesterfield Township Library, MI
Delta College, Bay City, MI
East Lansing Public Library, MI
Emerson School, Ann Arbor, MI
Farmington Public Library, MI
Ferndale Public Schools, District Tour

Grayling Elementary, MI
Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, MI
Highland Township Public Library, MI
Howell Carnegie District Library, MI
International Academy, Bloomfield Hills
Illinois Children’s Literature Conference
Kalamazoo Public Library, MI
Lake Orion Schools, District Tour, ’04, ’08
Livonia Civic Ctr. Library
Los Angeles Public Library
Kidder Middle School, MI
Michigan Reading Association, ’02, ’04
MAME Conference, ’03, ’05
Milford Public Library, MI
Novi Public Library, MI
Okemos Public Schools, District Tour
Orion Township Public Library,
Phoenix Public Library, AZ
Plymouth Public Library, MI

Rochester Hills Public Library, ’02, ’08
Royal Oak Public Library, MI
Ryan Intermediate, Richland, MI
St. Boniface School, Wisconsin
Saint Joseph Public Schools, District Tour
Southfield Public Library, MI
South Pasadena Public Library, CA
Three Fires Middle School, ’05, ’06, ’07
Troy Public Library, MI
Utica Schools, District Tour, ’05, ’07, ’08
Vanderbilt Area School, Holland, MI
Walled Lake Public Library
Waterford Public Library
West Bloomfield Public Library
Warren Schools, District Tour, ’04, ’08

It's always a pleasure to hear from folks who have arranged one of my visits. Kathy Trudell, library media specialist at Bach Elementary in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had this to say about my presentations there in December of 2005:

"Your presentation at Bach was a HUGE success and has made a great impact on our students and teachers. When I book an author and go looking for grant money for funding, I always hold my breath and hope that it will be well received and that the teachers won't say to the principal "that was a waste of time!"

I can't tell you how many staff came to me in the days following your visit to comment on how the children really picked up on your suggestions for how you create your characters and story lines. One second grade teacher was talking to her students about the process of writing a story and she said the children kept responding with "Mark Crilley says you need.....conflict, problems, give your characters a voice, make a connection, etc"

I can't keep any copies of your books on the shelves, there are "Reserves" for everything and the art teacher has children clamoring for lessons in cartooning. And we all agree that if the writing career should go flat (which I'm sure it won't) you have a great future as a comedian and entertainer!

Hats off to you for inspiring our students and best of luck with your projects to come."

Thanks for the kind words, Kathy. I'm sure I'd have no problem making it as a stand up comedian... provided they don't allow anyone into my shows older than middle schoolers!

Misha Molter of Vanderbilt Academy in Holland, Michigan, had this to say about my presentations there in February of 2005:

"The students are still talking about you and a day doesn't go by without them asking to have one of the pictures you left with us.  I laminated a few of them so those are hanging in the library.  

Whenever students see them hanging on the wall, they go nuts and can't stop talking about the characters and your presentation.  I also have several requests for your books, but they're all checked out by other students or I'm reading them to classes, so lots of kids are disappointed that they can't check them out yet.  I just can't keep them on the shelves!

I also want to say a special thank you for giving your autograph to the two boys who just wouldn't give up as you were headed out the door.  The one boy who was pretty persistant (enough to want me to write your name) has a lot of challenges in school and it was great to see him so excited about something positive for a change!  

When I told that story in the staff lunchroom, most of the teachers were surprised to hear that he was the one who just had to have your autograph.  It was really encouraging because he's the type that comes to library and never bothers to check out a book because he doesn't enjoy reading.  Maybe now he'll try checking out one of your books.  

I also had a mom tell me that her second grade son keeps bugging his dad asking him to "read with all the cool voices just like Mr. Crilley did" when he reads your books to him.  I've also had some requests to read using your voices, but I'm not even going to attempt that one!  

All in all, I've heard nothing but good responses from staff, students, and parents about your visit.  I can't thank you enough for coming and making such an impression on our school."

Thanks so much, Misha. Please give my best to all the students at Vanderbilt!

A Wonderful Time at St. Boniface!

In March of 2003 I had a truly delightful time visiting St. Boniface School in Germantown Wisconsin. This school may well be the Akiko capital of the United States, since I'll bet I encountered more Akiko fans there than I've seen at any other school I've visited. They wrote their own Akiko stories, showered me with gifts, and even made a little Akiko float for their Mardi Gras parade!

A few years later I started a blog that time constraints prevented me from continuing for very long. It does contain some nice photos of a few of my school and library visits, though, so it's well worth a quick visit.

Click on the thumbnail below to view a special 'scrapbook page' of my visit to St. Boniface School.

I was raised in Detroit, Michigan, where I began drawing almost as soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand. Graduating from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 1984, I proceeded to Kalamazoo College, where I was befriended by children's book writer/illustrator (and 2001 Caldecott award winner) David Small. David's example was instrumental in suggesting the course that my writing and illustrating would eventually follow.

Upon graduating from college in 1988, I embarked on a series of jobs teaching English in the Far East, first in Taiwan, then Japan, and once more in Taiwan in 1993. It was while living in Japan, in the fall of 1992, that I invented Akiko and fashioned her first adventure, a 33-page comic book story entitled "Akiko on the Planet Smoo." Returning to Michigan in 1995, I found an eager publisher for the tale in Sirius Entertainment, of Dover, New Jersey. Sirius published the story as a one shot in December of 1995, with a new series, entitled "Akiko", to be launched the following spring. In those first years of creating comics, I managed to produce new issues of Akiko at a rate of ten or more per year, and found a small but dedicated readership among comics fans.

In 1998 I was chosen by "Entertainment Weekly" magazine for a spot on the "It List", their annual issue dedicated to the "100 most creative people in entertainment," sharing the honor with Chris Ware as one of two comic book creators to be featured that year.

This led to Random House Children's Books inviting me to write and illustrate a series of novelized adaptations of "Akiko" for young readers. The first in the series, "Akiko on the Planet Smoo", was published in March of 2000; the tenth, "Akiko and the Missing Misp", hit stores in November of 2008.

In 2004 Random House published my first new creation since Akiko, "Billy Clikk: Creatch Battler." The second book in the series, "Billy Clikk: Rogmasher Rampage," hit stores in the fall of 2005. My novels have been featured in USA Today, the New York Daily News, and Disney Adventures Magazine, as well as on CNN Headline News.

My latest creation, the four-volume manga series "Miki Falls," was published by HarperCollins over a period of just eight months from 2007 to early 2008. Kirkus reviews called is "stellar" and the American Library Association put it on their official list of recommended graphic novels. It has since been optioned for film development by Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt's Plan B production company.

I now live in Michigan with my wife, Miki, and our children, Matthew and Mio. I sincerely hope I can spend the rest of my life doing just what I'm doing today: writing, drawing, and speaking to young readers at schools and libraries across the nation.

THE MARK CRILLEY "AUTOBIOGRAPHY" A few years ago I was invited to write an in-depth autobiographical essay about my life so far as an author for the Something About the Author series of library reference books. If you'd like to know my life story in greater detail--though I can't imagine why you'd want that!--you can find the entire article right here.

Author/Illustrator/Poet Kim Norman has kindly added me to her wonderful list of Author Visits by State. Thanks, Kim!


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