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Creating a Comic Book Exchange Program - Part 2
Article by Scott Tingley, August 19, 2007

Welcome to part 2 of Creating a Comic Book Exchange Program where Comics in the Classroom talks to comic writer Mike Bullock about how to….create a Comic Book Exchange Program.

Go HERE to read part 1.

Comics in the Classroom – Scott:  Mike, welcome back.  Walk us through the steps for creating a comic exchange in my local library.  Let's say that I am a concerned citizen that would like to get one started. Who is my first contact?

Mike Bullock : Your first step would be to get in touch with the library and make sure this is something they're interested in. While most librarians fully embrace any way they can find to get kids reading, there are some out there who might not be so open to this idea.

Once you've established a relationship at the library and made sure they're hunky-dorey with the idea, you'll need to make friends with a local comic book retailer. This is all about teamwork and the librarian, the retailer and you are the main members of the team. The retailer will be the one to donate the original batch of books needed to launch the exchange. Make sure the retailer puts a sticker on the comics with the store address and contact information, so the kids know where to go find new comics to bring back and exchange. Most retailers will also embrace this idea as a wonderful form of community outreach. If the first one you encounter isn't interested, check around to see if there's another local shop that is interested. If not, you can use the comic shop locator service, or the handy-dandy retailer list CitC has to find a retailer who will be more than happy to help.

CitC: So, you're now sitting on a big pile of comics that are, through the team's best efforts, appropriate. What now?In your opinion, how stringent do you have to be with the
content found in the comics?  I'm thinking that the Exchange's audience is 6 to 12 year olds and the books should fit in that range. What do you do if a parent complains that his/her 6 year old was allowed to take home a book that would be more appropriate for a 12 year old?

Mike : That's where the most precious commodity of all comes in: Time. All involved, from the retailers to the teachers, librarians and especially the parents need to give of their time and stay involved in the lives of the kids. With the exchanges we've set up so far, the original donation of books is gone through by myself and at least one other person before the kids are allowed access to them. Usually, all involved are also parents themselves.

CitC: Okay, so we have a large pile of comics ready to go.  What does the section look like physically?  Boxes of book permanently stashed in a corner, or something else?  Do all of the books go out at once or do you change them up frequently?

Mike : Most places have a comic short box or similar box filled with the comics. They designate a place for them and viola. It's really entirely up to the librarian, however, as only they know what will work best for their library.

CitC: once everything is set up, how does the word get spread?

Mike : So far, I've done programs to help launch them, where I teach kids how comic books are made and help them create their own character to star in a comic they make. At the end of the program, we inttroduce them to the comic book exchange and the librarian takes it from there with word of mouth, fliers etc.

CitC:  That sounds like something the parents could be involved in as well.

So, that's it for now. READERS , if you have any question about this program, email me and Mike will answer them here. You can also post questions on the CitC forum .



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