In September, the leaders of the world will convene at the United Nations to ratify the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These Global Goals will serve as the ultimate "to-do list" for the planet, creating a shared framework for the entire human race so that we may overcome our most serious challenges – extreme poverty, education, gender equality, communicable disease, drinkable water, etc.
Only for the goals to be effective, they must first be communicated to people all over the world regardless of language barriers, cultural differences or limited literacy.
Natabara Rollosson, a producer who develops high-profile events for the United Nations, feels that comics have a special role to play. "I was attending a UN planning session on how best to promote the Global Goals when the idea came to me of illustrating the Goals with comics," says Rollosson. "A friend had given me a pass to the New York Comic Con that was happening that week, so I headed across town in the hope of finding some way to turn this vision into a reality."
In a convention center filled with over one hundred thousand attendees, Rollosson happened to come across Josh Elder, Founder of Reading With Pictures (RWP), a non-profit that specializes in developing comics-based educational content.
"It was the most fortuitous chance meeting of my life," notes Elder. "Reading With Pictures was founded on the belief that comics are a kind of universal visual language, one that's ideal for communicating important concepts to diverse audiences. Concepts don't get any more important than the Global Goals, and audiences don't get any more diverse than the entirety of the human race."
RWP, in partnership with PCI Media Impact and PVBLIC Foundation, will be working in close coordination with the United Nations Post-2015 Development Planning Team and with the United Nations Millennium Campaign acting as a global engagement partner to the initiative to create a series of seventeen comics designed to educate and inspire action among readers around the world. The finished comics will be made available in multiple languages and then freely distributed online and in print to a global audience that is expected to number in the tens of millions.
"Having a team of artists from different countries around the world, all collaborating and contributing content for the cause, seemed like a perfect metaphor for the United Nations," said Rollosson. "With everyone in the industry cooperating for the global good, the name 'Comics Uniting Nations' encapsulated the spirit and became our banner title for the project."
Several global comics publishers including Action Lab, Andrews McMeel Universal, Archie Comics, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, Dynamite, IDW, Oni, NBM, Papercutz, Peanuts Inc., Teshkeel, TOKYOPOP, UDON and Valiant have already joined RWP in this effort, providing material support and contributing content of their own to the final product.
In order to fund Comics Uniting Nations, RWP has set up a crowdfunding campaign at Kickstarter.
"By the time the concept was fully developed and had real traction, the window for acquiring grant funding in time to meet our September deadline had already closed," Elder explains. "Crowdfunding on Kickstarter was the obvious solution. Fans around the world already know that comics can change lives, because comics changed theirs. Now we're asking for their help so that we can use comics to unite all nations."