Fulcrum Publishing shifts focus to educational graphic novels

As Fulcrum Publishing approaches its thirtieth anniversary, the Golden-based publishing house is intensifying its new focus on educational graphic novels, which teachers around the country are using with more regularity to get students interested in reading. The topics of these publications range from endangered ocean species to an unconventional history of Washington, D.C.

Bob Baron founded Fulcrum in 1984 to help promote books about environmental conservation. Since then, the company has become known for publishing guides and books about the outdoors, Native American history, politics, gardening and travel. One of its best-selling books is Colorado's Fourteeners by Gerry Roach.

See also: Wild Ocean explores the plight of endangered sea creatures through comics

But in 2010, Fulcrum published Trickster, a collection of Native American tales written by storytellers and illustrated by different artists. Comic artist Matt Dembicki put together the anthology, which quickly became a favorite among teachers and librarians. Due to Trickster's success, Fulcrum decided to continue working with Dembicki and other writers and artists to create other interesting and informational graphic novels.

"Most people, if they know we exist, they think about us in a very particular way," says Fulcrum spokeswoman Melanie Roth. "This is a brand-new market for us. It's a whole new thing; we're even going to comic-book conventions. We're really excited about it."

"We have found, in talking to teachers, that graphic novels are becoming huge in classrooms," she continues. "To get either the reader who doesn't want to read interested in history or to give kids that do excel in reading a reward for doing good work. It has kind of become our focus."

Dembicki has edited several graphic anthologies, including Wild Ocean, a collection of stories about endangered sea creatures, and District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, D.C. Other graphic novel titles include Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, written and illustrated by Joel C. Gill, and Colonial Comics, a history of New England from the 1600s, edited by Jason Rodriguez.

To reach out to educators, Fulcrum has also created a new website, Fulcrum Education, where teachers can find information on the books and students can watch videos, work on activities and more.

"The world has changed dramatically, even in the past five years," Roth says. "Teachers don't want to use the traditional worksheets. The world is so interactive. Kids can even look at this website on their phone. That's the way life is now. We're helping bring that interaction to the classroom."

Trickster, Strange Fruit and Wild Ocean are available on the Fulcrum website and at bookstores. Colonial Comics and Tales of the Talented Tenth, another series by Gill, will come out this September.

For more information, visit the Fulcrum Publishing and Fulcrum Education websites.

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