CBLDF announces the Rory D. Root Comics Ambassador Grant

New program offers grant money to retailers to encourage ‘community building through the creation of events promoting comics as a valuable form of free expression.’

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced a new grant program aimed at “encouraging community building through the creation of events promoting comics as a valuable form of free expression.”

The Rory D. Root Comics Ambassador Grant is named for the beloved owner of the Berkeley, California-based comic shop Comic Relief, who passed away in 2008.

artwork by Jeff Smith

“Rory Root was an early champion in the community of comic shop owners for the importance of comics as books, and to embrace the comic book store’s role as a place to introduce the medium to educators, librarians, and the community at large,” said CBLDF Board Member Paul Levitz. “This grant carries that vital work from Comic Relief into the present day.”

Accoridng the CBLDF, the grant “encourages CBLDF retail members to create programming that grows community and showcases the power of comics as free expression. This grant will help stores expand and develop programming that gives back to their loyal customers and builds bridges between local institutions and the industry at large, with their shop as the hub.”

Grants will range from $1,000 to $2,500, and the CBLDF has committed to give out $10,000 in the first year. Grant winners will be selected by a jury of creative, industry, education and retail professionals. Examples of programs that might qualify for grants include creator appearances, workshops, presentations to schools and PTA groups, mini-cons, readouts, book clubs, comics camps and and events for education holidays, like Banned Books Week or Constitution Day.

Bone creator Jeff Smith, who drew the artwork shown above, is designing the identity for the program. “Rory was one of the first people to encourage me, and to sing Bone’s praises to his customers and fellow retailers,” Smith said. “He was also one of the first I know of to recognize both the literary value and profit potential of graphic novels. I’m glad to be a part of carrying his spirit forward in a way that celebrates how comic stores are the places that bring all of us in the comics community together.”

Stores can submit grant applications on CBLDF.org starting this March. Grants will be awarded later this year.

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