Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Comic Book, One City

Wouldn't it be great if an entire city joined together to promote reading, literacy, and libraries, and to encourage the community to come together through reading and discussing a single comic book?

Maybe the city could choose a particularly wonderful comic book, such as, oh, I dunno, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis?

In this hypothetical scenario, perhaps the mayor's office, the libraries, and hundreds of other community partners could contribute resources and organize lots of events to promote the program -- let's make it eight week's worth of discussions, storytelling, music, poetry, dance performances, writing, cartoon creation, crafts, and screenings of the movie Persepolis?

And maybe the city could create a website that include lots of resources to promote the project, with discussion questions and lists of recommended supplemental reading materials -- including one suggesting other well-regarded comic books like Jessica Abel's La Perdida, David B.'s Epileptic, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, Ari Folman and David Polonsky's Waltz with Bashir, Fumiyo Kouno's Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, Lat's Kampung Boy, J.P. Stassen's Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda, and Shaun Tan's The Arrival?

They could also provide lots of resources for teachers, including a complete curriculum, vocabulary lists, comic book terms and concepts, and -- ooh, here's a neat idea -- run a contest for all public school students to create a comic strip!

Wouldn't this be great, not just for the city, but for comic books in general?

Oh man it's happening.

Here's the website for One Book, One Philadelphia.  This year's featured selection is Satrapi's The Complete Persepolis, an autobiography of growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution.  The program runs from January 20 through March 17.  Here's the complete calendar.

The One Book, One Philadelphia program is a fantastic idea in itself, but the fact that the organizers decided to choose a comic book as the featured selection is an outstanding development.  For all you people out there who like comics and want to see the art form become more respected by and important to our society, this really sounds like something that we should be celebrating.  Philadelphia, I salute you.


  1. Fantastic idea!
    Great choice on graphic novel too.

  2. The One City One Book ventures always make me nervous. I love the idea that the city is going to read a book; I don't love the idea that there's a chance of using the book to promote something. Will morality come into play during the discussions (of any book, not just this one)? If so, then it's dangerous times indeed. A city is not made of one type of person, but an infinite amount of types. Not all their moral or social beliefs align neatly... or at all.