Northwestern alum makes comic book to communicate UN’s goals


Source: Josh Elder

The book “Comics Uniting Nations” was created to help communicate the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The team that made the book includes three Northwestern alumni.

Emily Chin, Reporter

A Northwestern alumnus is creating a series of comics to educate people about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Josh Elder (Communication ’02), founder of Chicago-based nonprofit Reading With Pictures, a company that develops educational comics, is working to communicate the U.N.’s goals of fostering sustainable development worldwide by creating a comic book called “Comics Uniting Nations.”

The U.N. General Assembly will meet in September to vote on whether to ratify the 17 SDGs. If they are ratified, the U.N. will broadcast them globally. Some of the goals include eradicating poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring availability of water.

Reading With Pictures has already begun working on the comics to spread awareness of these goals.

Elder, who said he has been interested in comics from a young age, created Reading With Pictures to educating people through pictures.

“It’s a universal language,” he said. “It’s this incredible tool for instruction for anything. It’s always been derided and feared because it’s popular … the old cliche of you’ve got the kid with the textbook, but inside is the comic. Why don’t we make the textbook the comic?”

Elder, a former Daily columnist, has traveled all over the world talking to people about comics, which he said is an “untapped” source for education.

Natabara Rollosson, a freelance producer for the U.N., approached him by chance at New York Comic Con following a U.N. meeting about the SDGs and asked if he could create a comic book to help promote them.

“It was a fun moment talking about the possibilities and merging these two worlds that are at opposite ends of the universe — comics and the United Nations,” Rollosson, co-founder of “Comics Uniting Nations,” said.

Until the U.N. ratifies the goals, Reading With Pictures employees will be working to produce the comic book and raise the money needed to make it through a Kickstarter they launched Monday.

Todd Allen (Communication ’94), who runs logistics for “Comics Uniting Nations,” including managing the Kickstarter, said the project is developing much more quickly than other projects because of the hard September deadline, but is confident they will raise enough money.

The comic book will be created by September, Elder said.

“It’s the biggest gamble we’ve ever taken but it’s the biggest opportunity,” he said. “If we succeed, this would be our big contribution to the comic world.”

Aliza Weinberger (Communication ’13), who has been working with Reading With Pictures for four years and is in charge of the marketing for the book, said one of the biggest challenges is making sure the comic book has a global impact. If it is successful, she said, it has the potential to change the world.

“(‘Comics Uniting Nations’) really emphasizes the idea about ordinary people coming together to change the world,” she said. “This undertaking is kind of what idealistic dreams are made of. I’m really excited now that the world is getting to hear about it.”

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