One of the most exciting things about being part of a comics publisher right now is that we get to watch — and help — while teachers and librarians make graphic novels a part of their communities. 

We asked one of the programs we’re working with, "Get Graphic!" to talk a little about the exciting things they’re doing to make graphic novels a part of peoples lives. 


(Gene Yang talks to students at a program sponsored by "Get Graphic!")

Q: How Did “Get
Graphic!” get started? What was the inspiration for creation of the program?

A: The library was searching for a way to partner with other
community organizations in order to increase teen literacy. We were able to
partner with a wonderful and diverse group of institutions including: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, State University of New York
at Buffalo Libraries, Hein Publishing, Erie1Boces, Nioga Library System, The Buffalo
News Next Magazine, WBFO, and the Buffalo Public Schools. The idea
to focus on graphic novels was sparked by a desire to approach literacy advocacy
using a new strategy. We were interested in meeting teens on their own terms
and engaging them in reading with materials that they were already enjoying on
their own.

Q: It’s great that
you had so many community organizations to partner with!  What was it
about the graphic novel medium that made you and they all decide to band
together and do this program?

A: We were all dedicated to finding a new way to approach the promotion of
literacy with teens. We also wanted to engage teens with both educational and
creative activities designed to increase literacy and lifelong learning.
The graphic novel format seemed to be a natural fit for this as comics and
graphic novels are wildly popular, but have not yet been accepted in the world
of traditional education. Our school and library partners (Erie1Boces, Buffalo Schools, NIOGA Library System, and UB
Libraries) felt strongly that graphic novels would be a valuable enhancement to
traditional instruction presently offered in schools and well as a wonderful
addition to contemporary library collections. Our cultural organization
partners (Albright-Knox Art Gallery and WBFO radio) were intrigued both by the graphic novel as art form and as a
way to reach out more emphatically to teens. Our business partners (Hein
Publishing and The Buffalo News Next) felt that highlighting graphic novels
would benefit the community both educationally and culturally. We were all
motivated by the desire to enhance the lives of teens and their caregivers by
introducing them to a new and exciting way to experience the world of reading.
All the partners are eager and vocal participants in the various aspects of the
Get Graphic! grant project.

Q: Have you had any
interesting reactions from parents, teachers, etc., from introducing this
comics-centered program?

A: We have certainly been surprised by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic
response from everyone who has heard about our program! When we began planning
for the programs, workshops, and events we were simply hoping to engage the teen
community and introduce them more fully to a format with which they may have already
been familiar. When our events began taking place the positive response from
the community was tremendous. We have had attendees ranging from 9 year olds to
senior citizens. We have attracted attention from teachers, local artists,
school administrators, school a