04 Apr Using comics to change the world: a chat with Nancy Silberkleit, co-CEO of Archie Comics
Spring has finally sprung! I’m so happy to have the sun back, to be able to bike to work again and to have an ever-expanding range of delicious seasonal produce to enjoy… in short: warm weather really suits me!
Yesterday I had the great privilege of speaking with Nancy Silberkleit, co-CEO of Archie Comics. Nancy and I spoke about her passion for comics, not only as a form of entertainment but also as a way to communicate important messages and to foster a love of reading in children. Her foundation, Rise Above Social Issues, uses comics to teach children about issues like obesity and bullying. Nancy is an art teacher by trade, so she has a great insight into how children learn – and she’s using the Archie characters to teach valuable lessons!
Nancy is also passionate about plastic, and she’s put that passion into the pages of Archie. She had the beloved Riverdale characters explore this problem in two comics: “Bottle Battle”and “Getting Drastic with Plastic”, a comic released alongside a teacher’s guide for Earth Day a few years back.
Graphic illustrations can help children get to grips with the problem of plastic pollution and inspire environmental citizenship. Nancy took “Getting Drastic with Plastic” and commissioned the development of a teacher’s guide that helps teachers open up a conversation in their classrooms about what students can do locally to combat this problem.
The comic, “Getting Drastic with Plastic”, where one of the main characters, Veronica Lodge, goes on a mission to spread the word and change local behaviour, is being re-printed and re-released in Archie Fun House Spring Annual No. 26 TOMORROW – and you can get it in bookstores across the world (or order it online)! Talented artist Batton Lash put the comic together based on Nancy’s experiences and reports travelling to Rwanda, where she was inspired by their plastic bag ban. The issue is also filled with other fun and moving stories, such as the group of friends travelling to the Philippines, or the story “The Trend Setter”, which looks to spark conversations about kindness.
I hope there are some Archie fans out there already, but if not, you’re about to become one! I’ve been reading these comics for over 20 years and they hold a very special place in my heart. It was so wonderful to speak with Nancy and hear about her mission and how we can work together to inspire kids to make changes in their communities!
 Rise Above Social Issues, Health & Wellness Comics: http://www.riseabovesocialissues.com/read-health-wellness-comics.html
 Bottle Battle was written by legendary Archie comic writer Angelo De Cesare. Check out more information here: http://www.mtv.com/news/2620486/celebrate-earth-day-2011-with-archie-and-friends/
 Archie & Friends in Bottle Battle
 CBS New York (2015) Archie Comics Goes Green for Earth Day, April 18, 2015 http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2015/04/18/archie-comics-goes-green-for-earth-day/
 Alverson, Brigid (2017) Exclusive Preview” “Archie’s Funhouse Spring Annual” #26, School Library Journal