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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

A New Comic Book On Bernie Sanders Hopes To Educate And Entertain

Joe Paradise
StormFront Publishing
StormFront Publishing has published a new comic book that tackles the life of Sen. Bernie Sanders as part of a larger series of biographical comics about major figures in American politics.

Bernie Sanders' presidential run has inspired countless profiles, send-ups and songs about the Vermont senator. This past weekend, the Democratic candidate was lampooned onSaturday Night Live. There’s Bernie Sanders tote bags and Bernie Sanders bar soap.

Now there's even a comic book biography of the senator and presidential hopeful.

The book is part of a series of comics about presidential candidates from both parties that are being released by StormFront Publishing this election season.

On the origins of the series

Publisher and creator Darren Davis says the project came from a desire back in 2008 to create more non-fiction content.

“We started off doing Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.” Davis says. “We did it [from] the female empowerment angle and it was called ‘Female Force.’”

He says the idea took off from there and included other popular figures like Oprah Winfrey and Colin Powell. So far the group has published about 50 biographical comics.

On the process behind creating a biographical comic

Davis says the goal is always to keep the content unbiased.

“At the end of the day, I don't want anybody to know who I vote for, [who] the artist or the writer [votes for],” Davis explains. “So I always make sure that the people that I work with are really unbiased and it's really heavily edited so it doesn't look that way either.”

The choice of who to focus on is also about balance, according to Davis.

“Fifty percent Republican, 50 percent Democrat. We do independents, we do pundits,” Davis says, “It's pretty much all over the place ... the subjects that we have.”

On balancing facts with dramatic comic book moments

Davis says a close friend in journalism helped him understand how to tackle non-fiction content.

“She's always taught me that responsibility of having a journalistic approach to everything,” says Davis. “I don't want to do anything that is really sensationalism … I have found out recently that these books are actually taught in schools and libraries. So we do you have to make sure that we are responsible in the storytelling.”

The relatively brief length, only about 22 pages, also helps to focus the content of each comic.

“It's almost like a cliff notes of their life,” Davis said.

On the goal of publishing this series

Davis says the goal is not to encourage audiences to support a particular candidate but instead provide a new way to understand politics.

“It's ‘edutainment’ as Walt Disney once phrased [it],” Davis explains. “It's educational, but it's also entertainment … At the end of the day they are just informational pieces about the candidates.”

“As a kid I was reluctant reader. And comic books really helped my reading skills and all that type of stuff, so we're hoping for that.” said Davis.

The comics are available through Comic Flea Market

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
Alex was a reporter and host of VPR's local All Things Considered. He was also the co-host and co-creator of the VPR program Brave Little State.
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