Comic Books Written, Designed, and Published by Youths
The Comic Book Project is a world-renowned literacy initiative that engages young people in the process of planning, writing, designing, and publishing original comic books. For over 15 years, CBP has engaged learners in a creative process leading to academic achievement, social awareness, and community development. By engaging youths in the creative process of brainstorming, sketching, plotting, designing, and publishing original comic books, CBP enables students to become active learners and content creators, rather than mere information receivers.
Evidence of Success
In 2002, CBP conducted a comprehensive evaluation in New York City with the help of three important advocates for urban education: the After-School Corporation, the Partnership for After-School Education, and the Fund for the City of New York. The pilot involved more than 700 youths at 33 sites across New York City. The results showed that CBP was extremely effective as a motivational tool and pathway to learning, specifically in the areas of literacy, social awareness, character development, and community building. The results of the pilot program were published in two well-respected peer-reviewed journals: The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (Bitz, M.) and Art Education (Bitz, M).
In 2009, CBP was implemented in Imperial Valley, California through a grant from the US Department of Education. Imperial County--with one of the highest rates of English language learners and highest rates of unemployment in the US--used CBP as a tool for building English proficiency and overall academic skills. An independent evaluation showed that students who participated in CBP demonstrated significant gains in their test scores. Read the report here.
As CBP goes global, the evidence of success for learners worldwide continues to grow. In 2015, the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacypublished "Creating Comics in Nigeria: International Reflections on Literacy, Creativty, and Student Engagement" (Bitz, M. & Emejulu, O.). This article establishes CBP as a worldwide model for literacy building.
"The Comic Book Project provided the children of the Imperial Valley a creative and unique way of expressing their knowledge of content standards through drawing and sequential art. Many of our students found The Comic Book Project to be fun and exciting and have continued to create comic books on their own as they learn new content in their classrooms. The Project has made learning fun and has developed a way for children around the world to express through art, what they cannot express in words. I am honored to be working with such an innovative program." -- Lori Campos, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator, Imperial County, California
"We are just beginning the Manuscript Starter, a little behind schedule, but the students love The Comic Book Project; I have rarely seen them so engaged. And the wonderful thing is when a student runs with it, seemingly out of nowhere, and reveals whole new levels of skill and conscientiousness. A number of teachers thought it was one of the most successful programs ever done at the school." -- Tom House, English Teacher, Bridgehampton, NY
"Hello! This is Marchanna, co-creator of “One Thing to Another” along with Kayla and Danielle. (We were the students from Scranton Elementary in Cleveland.) It’s been over two years now--I’m now 13--and I think I neglected to tell you how thankful I am that you founded the Comic Book Project. It’s such a great way for students to interact and discover and build up their artistic talent. And also, if it wasn’t for this project, I would not be so fond of manga to this day, gotten much better at drawing, or even had start my own manga series! I was wondering if you are running the Comic Book Project in any Hope Academies this following school year? I would LOVE to participate in this project once more! Thank you for taking time to read this. I look forward to hearing from you. With All Due Respect, Marchanna" -- Marchanna Bentley, Student, Scranton Elementary, Cleveland
History of CBP
CBP was founded in 2001 by Dr. Michael Bitz, a leader in education and youth development. Through the support of Dark Horse Comics, the program began with a class of middle school students in NYC, and then quickly expanded across the city. After its pilot year in 2002, CBP became incubated by Columbia University's Teachers College. In 2003, CBP was implemented citywide in New York City and Cleveland. The theme of the New York City project was environmental awareness and was funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The theme of the Cleveland project was conflict resolution and was funded by the Cleveland Foundation. These two implementations impacted 10,000 youths. As a result, CBP was featured in The Washington Post, Youth Today, and other media outlets. The 2004-2005 school year marked the national launch of CBP with thousands of children in ten cities participating on the theme of leadership.
CBP continued to expand over the next three years with highly successful projects launched across the US. In Hawaii, students created comics about the dangers of pollution to the islands. In Tucson, refugee youths created comics about their traumatic experiences. In Washington, Native American youths created comics about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. These are just a few of the notable projects led by CBP. By 2009, over 100,000 youths in every state had participated in the program. It was featured by the New York Times, NPR, and many others. International recognition--from the Reading Association of Nigeria to the Ministry of Education in Australia--identified the importance of CBP in helping youths reconnect to language and literacy. CBP continues to thrive and expand today with new programs established in Canada, Mexico, and Nicaragua. The mission of bringing creativity into the classroom continues with every new comic book designed and published by a young person around the world.