Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is supporting retailers with the announcement of the Rory D. Root Comics Ambassador Grant, a new program encouraging community building through the creation of events promoting comics as a valuable form of free expression. The grant was announced today at the ComicsPRO Annual Meeting in Portland, OR.
CBLDF Board Member Paul Levitz says, "Rory Root was an early champion in the community of comic shop owners for the importance of comics as books, and to embrace the comic book store's role as a place to introduce the medium to educators, librarians, and the community at large. This grant carries that vital work from Comic Relief into the present day."
The Rory D. Root Comics Ambassador Grant encourages CBLDF Retail Members to create programming that grows community and showcases the power of comics as free expression. This grant will help stores expand and develop programming that gives back to their loyal customers and builds bridges between local institutions and the industry at large, with their shop as the hub. Grants will range from $1,000 to $2,500 each, with a first-year commitment of up to $10,000 in disbursals. Grant winners will be selected by a jury of creative, industry, education, and retail professionals. Stores can submit grant applications on CBLDF.org starting this March. Grants will be awarded later this year.
"Rory Root believed comics is a community," says CBLDF Board Member Katherine Keller. "He wanted to see creators, retailers, publishers, and educators coming together to lift each other up and strengthen those alliances with friendship. With this grant, we're proud to carry on his legacy by supporting the retailers who help make and grow our community."
Programs should be outreach-oriented and affirm the comics medium's value in supporting intellectual freedom, education, civics, representation, creativity, literacy and other forms of expression. Programs might include, but aren't limited to: creator appearances, workshops, presentations to schools and PTA groups, mini-cons, events for education holidays including Banned Books Week or Constitution Day, readouts, book clubs, comics camps, and other outreach programs. Retailers are encouraged to be creative and collaborative in developing programming with local and national partners when preparing their grant submissions.
Former CBLDF Board Member Jeff Smith, who is designing the identity for the program, remarks, "Rory was one of the first people to encourage me, and to sing Bone's praises to his customers and fellow retailers. He was also one of the first I know of to recognize both the literary value and profit potential of graphic novels. I'm glad to be a part of carrying his spirit forward in a way that celebrates how comic stores are the places that bring all of us in the comics community together."
CBLDF President Christina Merkler says, "Thanks to the generosity of our donors, this year we are able to develop new programs that further our legal and education work to help support the comics community for years to come. This grant is the first of these programs, and we are excited to reveal even more as they take shape over the course of the year."
CBLDF Vice-President Chris Powell says, "Rory and I spoke often, approaching our industry from very different viewpoints. We always agreed, however, that relationships are always at the heart of our business. I'm proud that we can contribute to nurturing relationships that will help grow the comics community in the years to come with this exciting new grant. I can't wait to congratulate the first class of recipients!"
Neil Gaiman, co-chair of CBLDF's Advisory Board remarks, "Rory Root — huge and cheerful and always so happy to see you, whether you were a visiting creator or just someone coming into his store out of the rain. Rory believed that everyone out there had a graphic novel they would love, some of them just didn't know it yet. Which was why he loved the people who came into Comic Relief out of the rain: they were all potential converts, and so many of them left holding a book that would be the start of a journey."
The Rory D. Root Comics Ambassador Grant will help comic book stores grow the comics community by acknowledging and supporting their role as the center of every reader's comics journey. Applications for the grant will be available in March.