Working in the financial industry a decade ago, Miguel Lopez was reminded of a longtime practice in Mexico where banks use graphic novels to help customers understand saving and investing.
“It was a really powerful approach to teaching,” Lopez said.
Lopez and his wife, Helen Anaya, decided to bring the comic method to the U.S. to reach low-literacy groups. They partnered with different organizations in 15 states and the couple’s Chandler-based Storynamics recently launched its first online service, kidsinmc.org, by partnering with the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.
Comics on the site, as well as in printed comic book format, teach children about caring for their pets and dog-bite prevention sterilization.
“It’s about reaching low-literacy populations who need the information,” Lopez said. “The comics engage the reader and take them all the way to the end. It’s a new iteration on what a brochure is.”
Lopez and Anaya originally stated the company in 2006, then called Hispanic Value, but “life put it on hold,” Lopez said. The couple came back to it last year and rebranded it Storynamics earlier this year. Maricopa County is its biggest client.
Storynamics has printed and distributed 240,000 comic books in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The company printed 50,000 comic books last year alone.
“It’s a very fun way to communicate and help people understand very complex topics that are important,” said Anaya, who writes the stories and uses a team of five designers to complete the comic books. “It is a very fun way to use my creativity and is all with a purpose.”
All of Storynamics’ work publishes in English and Spanish, and the majority focus on health topics like hand washing, pool safety and the West Nile virus. Storynamics, which recently moved into the Infusionsoft facility for small business startups in the Price Corridor, also is partnering with Banner Children’s Medical Center in Mesa on an anti-bullying comic book.
Anaya researches each subject and often interviews experts in the field before developing characters and a script.
“I wasn’t sure the response we were going to get, but it’s been good,” Anaya said.
Getting prospective clients to see comic books as a method to communicate a serious message sometimes has been an obstacle, Lopez said, but most usually come around.
Storynamics would like to soon see its comic books in every state. Future topics Anaya would like to tackle include vaccinations, diabetes, helmet safety and fire prevention.
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