Posts Tagged ‘Dan Archer’

Big plans for a small book — kudos for Olga Trusova and Dan Archer

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Praise for Borderland, a 36-page comic book telling seven real-life stories about modern-day slavery (we wrote about here and here).  International Organization for Migration will print and distribute copies of the comic to 136 schools in Ukraine.  English, Russian, and Ukrainian versions of Borderland will be available.

Anne Keehn, who has been fighting international slavery for years, wrote on the Human Human Goods website about the work of Fulbright Fellow Olga Trusova‘s and Knight Fellow Dan Archers project:

There are more slaves today than ever in history. Yet, the issue of modern-day slavery has not yet cracked mainstream discourse the way we’d like. So we are always heartened to see when intelligent, creative people use innovative ways to raise awareness about what we see as the human rights issue of our time.

Archer is the art director for the Stanford Graphic Novels Project.

Olga and Dan say on their website:

“The project began with a belief that as consumers of various goods and services, people should be aware of where those come from and at what cost. The U.S. government has tremendous influence on foreign governments and their policies, therefore it is important to bring you, the reader, into the picture, so that when time comes you can influence your government.”

Good news in a hard world: “Borderland” exceeded fundraising goals (by a hair)!

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

And now, the good news:  Borderland exceeded its fundraising goals, by $20!  Keeping track of the progress on my Apple, hour by hour, was a hair-raising process last night.  This morning brought a great finale to the story of Comics with a cause: “Borderland” warns kids about human trafficking:  $8020 from 157 backers will allow Dan Archer and Olga Trusova to distribute the comic — seven true stories by human trafficking survivors — in Eastern Europe.  Dan, a founder of and a 2010 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow, and Olga, a Fulbright Fellow from Stanford University, are understandably jubilant.

Heaven knows I don’t get excited about much along these lines — but these two are bristling with energy and drive, and their project is a much-needed one.  As explained a few days ago, they’ve made me into a convert.
This message from Olga:

“We are very grateful to everyone who contributed on Kickstarter! This makes it possible for us to print and distribute the comic in the U.S. and to also reach a wider audience with an interactive iPhone app in order to raise awareness about human trafficking in the West. The Ukrainian version of the book will also be distributed to 136 schools in Ukraine by the International Organization for Migration. Additionally, we are talking with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev about having an exhibit to showcase Borderland as a preventative educational material for youth.

Half of the jubilant team

In terms of fundraising, Dan and I have reached out to our respective communities of educators, journalists, artists, designers, NGOs, activists, students, etc. and it’s been great to see so many people come forth to support the project. Kickstarter placed us in the “Featured” section of the website, which also brought its core audience to learn about Borderland. Overall, we utilized a lot of social media tools and in-person events in our outreach campaign, and have especially seen an increase in support in the beginning and at the end of the pledge drive.”

See more about their story in yesterday’s post.

Comics for a Cause: “Borderland” warns kids about human trafficking

Sunday, September 26th, 2010


ONLY A FEW HOURS LEFT!  This project will only be funded if at least $8,000 is pledged by Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1:45 p.m. EDT — which means 10:45 a.m. PST!!!  Under the kickstarter aegis, they must raise all the money to meet their pledge, or else all the money is returned to donors.  Please donate by clicking here.

Yes, yes, I know.  We’re talking about comics.  Graphic novels.  I considered myself a tough sell when I walked into Stanford’s Institute of Design to hear two kids talk about saving the world through the pages of comic books.  But they sold me … figuratively speaking.

She collected the stories from Eastern Europe

Olga Trusova is a Fulbright Fellow from Stanford University.  The Ukrainian designer and educator spent a year collecting stories told by victims of human trafficking in Eastern Europe. Dan Archer, a comics-journalist from California, a founder of and a 2010/11 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow, currently co-teaches the acclaimed  graphic novel project at Stanford. He turned Olga’s stories into pictures.  (Video is hereBorderland preview site is here.)

I had arrived late from the Mexican festivities nearby, after Olga had already finished her intro.  Dan was talking about this “visually seductive form with a tarnished history.”

He took pen to Bristol board

“It’s a great way of packaging a lot of information … in a form that can capitalize on the energy.”

Dan praised the work of pioneering Joe Sacco, creator of the 1996 American Book Award-winning graphic novel Palestine, and his graphic novel on the Bosnian War, Safe Area Goražde. Then he and Olga talked about thumbnails and storyboarding.

They were both appealing. They were both persuasive.  Dan described the discovery of “how I could tell stories in small bite-size chunks.”

Olga’s reportage ensured that this was  “not just seven stories of strangers,” she said.

“The stories are really harrowing,” says Dan. “Reliving these things, and negotiating how much to show — was the most challenging part of the project.”

Not showing is far more powerful,” he concluded. “The readers have to insert their own agency between the panels to make the story come alive for themselves.”

“There’s a lot of potential for artists who want to create comics for social change,” says Olga.

OK, here’s the proviso (you knew it was coming, didn’t you?):  There is nothing here that is not described more immortally in the story of Jean Valjean.

Sacco: Role model

Sontag spoke here about reading as the education of the emotions:

“Reading should be an education of the heart …   Literature is what keeps us from shriveling into something completely superficial. And it takes us out of ourselves, too. … I really do think it’s necessary if you want to have a full life. It keeps you–well, I don’t want to say honest, but something that’s almost the equivalent. It reminds you of standards: standards of elegance, of feeling, of seriousness, of sarcasm, or whatever. It reminds you that there is more than you, better than you.”

That said, Dan and Olga have made it clear that they want to reach kids who won’t be reading Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, or Charles Dickens anyway.  They want to spread a message to kids who have been victims in Eastern Europe: “You are not alone.” So you’re not compromising any literary principles — this is a different gig altogether.

Now here’s the kicker:  The next two days are critical.  This project will only be funded if at least $8,000 is pledged by Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1:45 p.m. EDT — which means 10:45 a.m. PST!!!  Under the kickstarter aegis, they must raise all the money to meet their pledge, or else all the money is returned to donors.  See here for details.

Look at it this way:  a mere 10 bucks will get you a pdf and a hard copy of the comic.  50 bucks will get you the iphone app version.  If you’re too much of an old fogey to get into this … well, you have kids, don’t you?  Go ahead.  I did.  More about donating here.