Here is a thing Donald Trump could not stop: the US has an actual Comic Book Ambassador, and that person is writer Van Jensen, who writes of his duties:
A thing that is both unbelievable and true: I am the first-ever Comic Book Ambassador of the United States. I was asked by the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, to come over along with artist David Mack and spend time visiting some cultural institutions and work with a group of locals in the creation of a new comic book. I’ll also be attending the nation’s literary festival and spending some time with refugee children at a displaced persons camp. After I’m back, I’ll be launching a book donation drive to send comics to the refugees. Stay tuned for more information on that!
While this may sound outlandish at first blush, comics are being increasingly used for educational purposes around the world, and as a popular medium make a great way to empower young creators and promote beneficial ideals. Van is a smart and principled guy, and along with David Mack, I’m sure they will represent US comic in fine fashion.
Jensen is also the author of Cryptocracy, which comes out in June from Dark Horse, and his new duties should certainly provide much more writing fodder for the series:
Hey there, friends! June sees the launch of Cryptocracy, a new ongoing comic book series I created with the super-talented artist Pete Woods. The book imagines a world in which a secret, shadowy, all-powerful organization does exist. But we see the story from their side—who they are, why they do the things they do. And, for the first time, someone is hunting them. It’s a big pastiche of conspiracies and science fiction, covering everything from Roswell to the Mothmen.
According to the State Dept.:
Renowned U.S. Comic Book Creators to Visit Georgia in May and June
In a new program launched by the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, renowned U.S. comic book creators will travel to Georgia to teach youth how to creatively share stories through the unique and engaging art form of comic books.
This summer, America’s first ever “comic book ambassadors” to Georgia – the illustrator David Mack (Daredevil, Alias, Kabuki) and the writer Van Jensen (The Flash, Green Lantern Corps, Cryptocracy) – will work with a talented team of Georgian college and high school students to create their own comic book.
Van Jensen will visit in May, holding workshops to teach the ins and outs of storytelling and scripting. He will also meet with Georgian publishers, talk to students at a Peace Corps summer camp, take part in Georgia’s International Literature Festival, and visit internally displaced persons at the Tserovani settlement camp.
David Mack will visit in June. In an effort to inspire new artists, he will hold an exhibit showcasing his unique style of visual storytelling. He will work with Georgian students to finalize their character designs, page layouts, pencils and inks for their comic book. He will also hold a master class with deaf and hearing-impaired students at a Tbilisi boarding school.
Empower Women, a student group at the Tbilisi campus of San Diego State University, will create the Georgian comic book. The students will ensure the comic book promotes teamwork, inclusion, gender equality, and non-violence. Empower Women has already selected student writers and illustrators to write and draw the book, and the U.S. Embassy will support the printing and distribution of its first issue, which will be given out free of charge to students in rural areas of Georgai. The project has already begun with a series of public workshops by the renowned Georgian writer Nikoloz Khomasuridze, creator of the first-ever Georgian comic book Amirani.
Georgia has a long, rich tradition of art, but comic books are relatively new to the country. With comic books fueling the boom in superhero films and TV programs, Georgian artists are eager to write their own stories but need technical skills to get started. During their visit to Georgia, America’s “comic book ambassadors” will share their extensive experience in the field. They will also highlight the importance of comic books as a form of expression, entertainment, and economic income, encouraging youth to view visual storytelling and comic books as an avenue to be heroic in their own, unique ways.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.