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Giving Something Back: Comics4Kids
Article by James W. Powell
Posted May 22, 2005

For most of us, comics are a form of artistic entertainment. They're to be read and enjoyed. For others, it’s the thrill of hunting down a mint copy of their favorite book, grading it, and adding it to their collection that brings them the most joy. But for Dale Moore and Jason McKibbin, founders of Comics4Kids, it’s a combination of both, with an extra large portion of good will thrown in for fun.

Since 1993, Comics4Kids has been donating comics to kids in need, whether they are kids with extensive stays in the hospital or those who just need someone to show they care. Yet the not-for-profit organization’s goal goes far beyond simply keeping the children entertained.

Comics 4 Kids logo“The primary goal of Comics4Kids is to reach as many children as possible to expose them to the illustrated literary narrative beyond children's books,” said Moore. “We want to help them improve literacy and expression, as well as encourage imagination and inspire them throughout daily life. For instance, a long hospital stay made easier by the solace of familiar characters beyond the relationship of family and friends.”

According to Moore, Comics4Kids has donated over 250,000 comics. And considering that many of the kids share their books with others, the organization has reached close to 100,000 children.

“Many teachers and educators have requested comics, and we always like to see the smiles in recovery rooms at hospitals,” Moore said. Some organizations the program has donated comics to include Black Canyon Boys and Girls Club in Colorado and the Tacoma Public Library Young Readers Program in Washington, not to mention the U.S Marine Corps, U.S Department of Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army.

Moore also said that many individuals have requested and received comics for their children at home, but not only in the United States. Comics4Kids has delivered comic to Canada, the United Kingdom, and Africa.

Comics 4 Kids heroBut how can Comics4Kids know for sure they are sending the books to children in need? “We review requests for overall intent and distribute copies accordingly,” Moore said. “The great majority of requests come from a bona-fide genuine need base, and verifiable candidates.” But just in case their might be secondary market profiteers looking to get in on the freebies, every comic book is stamped with the Comics4Kids logo and web address.

Stamping a comic book might seem to fly in the face of the organization’s other purpose: grading comics. Yet while grading and donating might seem to be polar opposites, Comics4Kids even has positive ulterior motives for that part of their business. “Our grading services are designed to educate the client and to help defray our overhead costs, as well as to drum up new comics for the kids and face to face advertising,” Moore said.

Moore went on to say that he Comics4Kids grades books for those people who are interested in the value of their collectibles, but who don’t want to get their books encapsulated. While they do charge money for their service — $1 per book with a minimum of 50 books — they also accept comic books as payment, which of course, they turn around and donate. So those who enjoy protecting their investment are supporting their personal beliefs about the hobby while also supporting those who don’t have any concern for future value.

Of course, the children who receive donated books find value that goes beyond any monetary gains. Not only are the kids being turned on to reading — which should make teachers and parents very happy — but there’s a strong chance that they are taking away even more. “I'd like to think that the kids get something out of the morality plays in comics and the message to ‘do unto others as you would have done to you,’ ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ ‘truth, justice, and the American way,’ that sort of thing.”

On top of that, the kids are learning that they are not alone, and that there are many out there who like to share. And as many comic readers are aware, sharing hasn’t always been of the utmost importance for comic collectors.

“We have invigorated complacent readership and spread the message of giving with sensational results. Keep in mind that the collecting community is usually a reserved bunch who are very skeptical and private. On the whole, our company has instilled a sharing principal that the comics community has embraced and they enjoy the sense of camaraderie as a result. They have taken the new readership under their collective wings, so to speak, and have more of a mind to help them along. It's all about giving a little back. Or maybe I should say, ‘Give until it hurts!’”

While the monthly issues are the bread and butter for Comics4Kids, graphic novels also have their place. “I think that the Graphic Novels are ideal, in that the child would see a conclusion to the narrative all at once, but the fundamental drive to read would be best accentuated by a diverse selection of single issues, exposing the reader to many different uses of grammar, slang, and character development.”

Shipping large numbers of graphic novels is very cost prohibitive, so Moore has other ideas for the comics that fit on bookshelves. “Graphic Novels will have a place in the Comics4Kids library we are establishing. I envision a milk and cookies reading bar where kids can come in and read on site and we can answer any questions that they or their parents may have, and interact with the comic book world.”

Watching kids smile while enjoying comic books is like a dream come true for Moore, and he hopes to see it continue to grow. “I've noticed at the local level that kids are really into comic books and they are a real groundbreaker in communication,” Moore said. “We are single handedly bridging the generation gap!”

If you would like more information on donating comics or requesting a donation, visit the Comics4Kids web site.

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