This Is What Democracy Looks Like, A Comic Book, A Road Trip
So We Made This Comic Book
Produced by The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS), This Is What Democracy Looks Like, A Graphic Guide To Governance is the result of a collaboration of educators and world-class cartoonists and is designed to help teachers prepare students to be empowered, informed, and civic minded.
Comics are an incredibly effective tool that engages even the most reluctant readers and this 32 page comic will be an inspiring classroom resource. A free study guide will also be available providing a robust lesson plan that includes a week's worth of activities and discussion questions that aligns with a C3 framework.
Help Us Spread Democracy (The Comic)
Through the generosity of early donors, CCS has already created and printed the comic; we’re now on Kickstarter to fund classroom visits where our cartoonist/educators will facilitate a dynamic, interactive workshop that includes providing each student a copy of This Is What Democracy looks Like.
With so much media attention focused on the personalities and drama of the elections, this comic can help provide critical context and information that will be useful beyond any one election cycle.
Connecting CCS to classrooms is The Mikva Challenge, an inspiring non-partisan and non-profit organization that works with teachers, schools, and students throughout the country to close the “civic empowerment gap” between low-income, minority youth and wealthier white youth and envisions “a stronger, inclusive democracy that values youth voice.” You can learn more about all the great organizations that helped support This Is What Democracy Looks Like over on the CCS website.
Hitting the Road
With help from our partner organizations, CCS is currently laying the groundwork to visit schools throughout the country. The initial $6,000 goal is to fund a Midwest tour, with stops in: Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison. Each $5,000 raised above the initial goal will allow us to set up an additional leg of the tour that could include the Northeast (Vermont to Washington DC), The Rust Belt (Pennsylvania and Ohio), and the Southeast (Georgia and Florida).
At each school, CCS instructors will give away comics and work with teachers to help students gain a deeper understanding of how their government works and how they can make a difference in their communities and beyond.
Your funds will help pay for the nuts and bolts of travel (transportation and lodging), staffing and training, and other types of logistical support needed to make this campaign a success. Check the budget section at the bottom of the page for more specifics.
Our Creative Team
The Center for Cartoon Studies is a beehive of creativity and cartooning and all of the cartoonists who worked on this book have some connection to the school. Lead cartoonist Dan Nott is a recent alumni and cover artist Kevin Czap (Czap Books) was a CCS fellow. Contributors Hallie Jay Pope (Graphic Advocacy Project) and Eisner-nominated Summer Pierre have been visiting artists. Alumni Nomi Kane (The Nib) provided early input and Eva Sturm-Gross grew up on the mean streets of White River Junction. The two CCS co-founders were also involved: Michelle Ollie provided design and production expertise and James Sturm contributed writing, layouts, and was the project’s ringleader.
What is The Center for Cartoon Studies?
The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) is a 501(c)3 world-class cartooning school located in White River Junction, Vermont that brings together top-notch instructors, internationally acclaimed visiting cartoonists, and phenomenally talented students. CCS’s programs include a two-year Master of Fine Arts Degree, One- and Two-Year Certificates in Cartooning, and summer workshops. At CCS, comics are created to help us understand ourselves, our community, and our world.
CCS Makes Books That Make A Difference
Drawing upon the talent from our faculty, fellows, students, alumni, and visiting artists, CCS has produced exceptional books. These include a series of multi Eisner Award winning biographies about iconic historical figures (Hyperion/Disney), The Cartoonist Veteran project, and the best-selling Adventures in Cartooning series.
Our (Not So) Secret Hope and Goal
This is CCS’s first Kickstarter. We’ve set realistic goals. But we’re cartoonists and we’re dreamers and we believe in the power of comics to educate and inspire. If this campaign proves to be wildly successful we will print more comics and send them to schools free of charge.
We want to spur civic engagement and help American democracy move closer to the ideals that are stated in the constitution. Like we said, we’re dreamers. Thank you for dreaming with us.
To help raise these funds we are offering advanced physical copies of the TIWDLL comic book in various quantities, as well as a digital PDF eBook version of TIWDLL (which will be available as a free download beginning in September on the CCS website), and some other exclusive items, which are listed below:
"Democracy Rules" Bumper Sticker - What better way to show your support of a road trip than a bumper sticker? These high quality vinyl stickers are available for all tiers above $7.
"Democracy Rules / Cartooning Rules" Tote Bag - Bring your comics and graphic novels with you anywhere you go in this durable, cotton tote bag. Available at the $20 Tote Bag tier (+4 copies of the comic), the $35 Educators Bundle Plus Tote tier (+25 copies of the comic), the $55 Community Organizer Special Plus Tote tier (+50 copies of the comic) and all tiers above $250.
Limited Edition Two-Color Risograph Poster - The cover design of The Is What Democracy Looks Like was drawn by the amazing CCS Fellow ('17-'18) Kevin Czap whose books and publishing efforts are nothing short of brilliant. This two-color, 11" x 17" risograph poster is printed on sturdy card stock. Available at the $25 tier.
Teaching Resource Guide PDF - This guide works hand-in-hand with TIWDLL to allow teachers and community leaders to expand upon the comic with activities, exercises and discussion questions. This was put together with experienced classroom teachers and will be available as a free download beginning in September on the CCS website. Get an advanced copy (in time to work it into your fall curriculum!) by selecting one of the Educator or Community Organizer tiers that includes this PDF.
Jason Lute’s Berlin, Signed Copy with Sketch - During the past two decades, CCS Faculty Member Jason Lutes has quietly created one of the masterworks of the graphic novel golden age. Berlin is one of the high-water marks of the medium: rich in its well-researched historical detail, compassionate in its character studies, and as timely as ever in its depiction of a society slowly awakening to the stranglehold of fascism. Signed copies with a sketch by Lutes are available at the $75 tier.
James Sturm’s Off Season, Original Art with Signed Copy of Book - Set against the backdrop of the 2016 election season, this personal/political graphic novel charts one couple’s divisive separation during Bernie’s loss to Hillary, Hillary’s loss to Trump, and the disorienting months that followed. The New York Times calls Off Season “a revelation...a seamless contemporary take on economic despair, political confusion and the challenges of parenting." CCS Director James Sturm is offering a signed copy of the book plus a piece of original art - one panel from the book which will be selected by the cartoonist. Available at the $125 tier.
Ed Koren Original Etching - In this untitled etching, humanity's baser impulses towards conflict, aggression and cruelty test the society we've built to uphold our better instincts. Edward Koren has long been associated with The New Yorker magazine, where he has published over 1,000 cartoons, as well as numerous covers and illustrations. He served as a Vermont Cartoonist Laureate from 2014-2017 and his cartoons, drawing and prints have been widely exhibited in shows across the United States and throughout Europe. This limited edition of 50 etchings was created at The Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction, Vermont. Available at the $250 tier.
“Election Day,” Denys Wortman Original Cartoon Drawing - Denys Wortman’s work is currently being exhibited in the Norman Rockwell Four Freedom’s touring exhibition. Wortman was a revered cartoonist who created the comic strip Metropolitan Movies. He studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art with Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller, both of whom became noted social realists. Wortman’s original art rarely goes on sale.
The caption of this comic reads: “I’m so afraid I’ll just vote for him from force of habit.” It is undated, though it is clearly "peak Wortman," drawn sometime in the early to mid 1940s. The piece is 12.5" x 20.5" and is available at the $1,500 tier.
Below you can see the budget we have developed for the first leg of the tour (Detroit/Chicago/Milwaukee/Madison). If funds are raised to unlock additional legs of the tour, costs will likely follow similar percentage breakdowns:
Risks and challenges
This is CCS's first Kickstarter campaign, but we are old pros at creating and printing exceptional comics and we run a dynamic college so we can handle the logistics of a road trip. The comic itself is already printed and we have budgeted time for fulfilling kickstarter rewards and are exploring a variety of options to ensure we can succeed at whatever scale the project reaches.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)