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Nine PBS and Lion Forge Animation Team Up on ‘Drawn In’

The multi-media initiative aims to close the literary gap with educational games, digital comic books, resources for grownups, and an animated series that follows the epic comic adventures of 4 Midwest kids who LOVE comic books.

Nine PBS and Lion Forge Animation  (Oscar-winning Hair Love) are teaming up to “close the literary gap” with a new multi-media initiative designed to positively represent kids of color by sharing epic adventures through animated video shorts, print, and digital comic books. The “Drawn In” website features educational games for kids and resources for educators and grownups, which support the initiative’s literacy goals.

Drawn In is a series following the epic comic adventures and exploits of four Midwest kids who unabashedly love comic books. Tyler, Nevaeh, Jadyn, and Grace live and breathe comic books. In each episode, the kids’ real world collides with the comic world when colorful heroes, villains, robots, and other fanciful creatures escape from the book's pages. The kids must figure out how to catch and restore the escapees to save their city from cartoon mayhem! As they pursue the renegade characters, the world changes, with comic panels becoming portals, letters becoming loopholes, sound effects becoming visible, and illustrations bursting to life. To set their world right again, the kids must use problem-solving and literacy skills.

Like other shows for a public media audience, Drawn In is created to educate while entertaining. The initiative addresses English and language arts educational objectives for 6–8-year-old kids, using comics to build a bridge between learning to read and reading to learn. The initiative's goal is for Black and Brown kids to see themselves positively represented in every story through the diverse ethnicities of the characters, their socio-economic circumstances, and their different life experiences.

The initiative kicked off locally in St. Louis, with the creative team first getting input from a panel of community advisors to ensure that the stories, settings, and characters authentically represent the needs voiced by the community advisors.

Family Community Learning (FCL) events are a key element of the initiative, helping to build a connected community and create engaging stories for kids to strengthen their literacy skills and reading comprehension. Co-viewing and co-reading are encouraged, and available resources help families include literacy activities in their everyday lives.

A past Board Chair of Nine PBS, David Steward II is Lay Vice Chair of America's Public Television Stations (APTS). He was the recipient of the APTS Advocacy Award in 2021.

“Our partnership with Nine PBS illustrates our commitment to driving change through public media and furthering the diversity of content in the public media landscape on a national level,” commented Steward II. “Drawn In is among the first animated kids' initiatives with African Americans as lead characters in public media. We’re motivated to ensure it will be a catalyst for many more. Helping others understand the unique role that public television serves in the area of education is something I personally embrace and makes our Drawn In initiative even more gratifying. While advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives, we need to start seeing heightened diversity in programming that is reflective of a diverse society. Drawn In does just that and will be a lot of fun in the process.”

“Nine PBS wrote the book on how Public Media engages local communities around issues that matter to them,” noted Nine PBS President and CEO Amy Shaw. “For us to execute on the vision that our local community advisors had for the Drawn In stories and characters, it was intentional and imperative that we work with a partner like LFA who are Black and Brown in ownership and leadership. Their team is representative of our target audience, both behind the camera and in front of the camera. It’s a more genuine approach to educate, serve, and transform our community.”

Major funding for Drawn In comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with additional support from The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. Major support for the associated community engagement work comes from the Steward Family Foundation. Additional community engagement support comes from Joseph and Sandra Lehrer in memory of Ted Koplar.

Check out the many ways to get "Drawn In," including educational games, digital comics, and animated shorts available at

Source: Lion Forge Animation

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.