A “power couple in publishing,” Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman are revolutionizing the way people view comics and graphic novels. Spiegelman wrote and illustrated Maus, a Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel, and Mouly works for the New York Times as the arts editor. Together, they created TOON Books, a “micro-publishing imprint,” that provides high-quality comics to readers of all ages – from infancy to adulthood – that engage, entertain, and educate readers. Spiegelman, Mouly, and their daughter Nadja (also a TOON author) sat down with Amy Meythaler for Mackin Compendium to discuss their inspiration for creating the educational comics as well as their plans to grow TOON Books.
Spiegelman and Mouly always had comic books available for their children to read, and Nadja and Dash spent hours with their friends perusing the stacks and quickly devouring the stories. Spiegelman and Mouly noticed how beneficial comics were to young readers yet the limited exposure they had to comics, so they started creating comic collections and orignal stories aimed at younger readers. Eventually, Mouly returned to her independent publishing roots and they created TOON Books in 2007. Now, 8 years later, they have more than 30 leveled comic readers and are launching TOON Graphics, which features comics geared towards readers eight to twelve.
TOON Books is widely accepted by educators, librarians, parents, and children. Educators vet the comics to ensure the illustrations and narratives nurture the minds of the young readers and are leveled correctly. Mouly and Spiegelman create lesson plans for each comic that go along with the Common Core State Standards as well. Educational and fun, children love the comics because they can actually read them on their own. As Mouly said in the interview, “Visual narrative helps kids crack the code that allows literacy to flourish. […] Many of the issues that emerging readers have traditionally struggled with are instantly clarified by comics’ simple and inviting format.” As Art Spiegelman said,”comics are a gateway drug to literacy,” and TOON Books is happily providing them to readers of all ages.