It’s time to get rid of your out-dated views on comics. Though they were once considered juvenile and less important than other forms of literature, comics are now integral to education, because they entertain, educate, and artfully provide ways into tough discussions. It is thanks to presses like Fulcrum Publishing that this perception is changing. On August 26 2015, Jamie Siebrase for Denver’s Westword took a look at the history of comics, focusing on Fulcrum’s place in and impact on the genre.
Bob Baron, the 81-year-old founder of Fulcrum Press, experienced the shift from dismissal to eager acceptance in terms of comics. Baron was an avid reader of comics as a child, but he never envisioned himself working with comics, let alone running a publishing house. Though Baron did not originally focus on comics when he started Fulcrum in 1984, he views comics “as a valuable tool for communicating history, and the history of people through art as well as words.” Comprised of only “a handful of people” in the beginning, Fulcrum now has eight staff members and has published over 900 titles, in genres including gardening, guidebooks, and history. When Baron’s son-in-law Sam Scinta (now publisher at the press) became a part of the team, he introduced political science titles and increased the focus on Native American writers and their stories, mainly through comic form. This led to the publication of Trickster in 2010, a graphic anthology of Native American stories that sold over 40,000 copies in five years and received “glowing” reviews from librarians, teachers, and readers.
After the success of Trickster, Fulcrum put more focus on comics and they are taking the world by storm, both inside and outside the classroom. Fulcrum does not stray away from hard topics, finding that the medium of comics allows them to tackle controversial issues in a way that is appropriate for young readers and inspires discussions. Melanie Roth, Fulcrum’s sales and marketing director, said in the Westword article that “Fulcrum’s goal has always been to strike a balance between artistic value and classroom accessibility.” Readers of all levels find the comics engaging and entertaining, and teachers appreciate the dialog the comics create. Fulcrum’s comics also align with the Common Core curriculum, which makes it hard not to want them in your kid’s classroom.
Comics are Fulcrum’s main priority at the moment, and Bob Baron is thrilled with how successful they have proven to be. Fulcrum is expanding into new genres with their comics, delving into science and even creating a comic geared towards adults about healthcare. Roth summed up the changing views on comics and Fulcrum’s role in the shift: “I think there is a very old-fashioned view of what a comic is, and we’re trying to change that… It doesn’t have to be superheroes and fictional. […] it can be real people, too…”