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The Catharsis of Creativity

Maria Schneider is the editor of the cartoon Pathetic Geek Stories and a staff writer for The Onion. At GEL, she did a reading of several of her online comic strips and tried desperately to position her work in a design and business context. What follows is a partial transcript of her presentation:

Maria Schneider is the editor of the cartoon Pathetic Geek Stories and a staff writer for The Onion. At GEL, she did a reading of several of her online comic strips and tried desperately to position her work in a design and business context. What follows is a partial transcript of her presentation:

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Hey, corporate America, what’s up! Woohoo! You guys have kind of taken a hit, and I wanted to throw something positive out there. I made a PowerPoint slideshow for this thing, and I basically stuck to the template. This first slide is “Communicating Bad News: Pathetic Geek Stories for the 21st Century and Beyond.”

I don’t dig these stories up. They come to me. And the people who send me these things tend to fall on the, shall we say, unpopular side. They’re not very fashionable. They’re not very good at public speaking. And not surprisingly, most of these stories take place in adolescence and for the most part, in public schools.

I’m really close to my subject matter. This is me as a freshman in high school. Why did I create the strip? I don’t know. When I saw Mr. Roberts talk, I was trying desperately to inject meaning into my talk. Oh, man, I need to say something relevant.

I want to tell stories that are under the radar, usually for good reason. And also, just to take a piss and poke fun at the subjects as well. I have empathy as well as a distance. One of my favorite themes is the geek who tries to improve her social stature, but her own missteps undermine those efforts. Those of you who are unfamiliar with Pathetic Geek Stories are probably thinking, boy, is that anticlimactic. What is up with that?

What is up with that, indeed? These are the kinds of stories that appeal to me. Do these strips make you uncomfortable? They’re supposed to. This is the PGS Site Administrative Flow Chart. Things flow from me, cartoonist, to my Web designer, Shannon. Ideas do go back and forth, but I didn’t know how to make hash marks.

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Early in the day, we were talking about sincerity. My site just poops sincerity. Sometimes I have to go to bed early, my site is so earnest. You might notice that it has kind of a dated ’80s quality to it. Some go back to the ’70s, but I have some from the ’90s now. When I get an idea that I like, I write the people back and ask for more details. It makes my job a bit easier.