Oscar-winning studio Lion Forge Animation teams up with PBS for groundbreaking kids franchise



Based in Saint Louis Nine PBS partners with David Steward II’s Animation of the Forge of the Lionthe Oscar-winning creators of Hair Love, on a new multimedia initiative designed to positively portray children of color and help bridge the literacy gap.

Epic adventure stories are shared through animated video shorts, print and digital comics. A website with educational games for children as well as resources for educators and adults will support the literacy goals of the initiative.

Drawn In is an epic comedy adventure story series following the exploits of four Midwestern kids who are unapologetically fond of comic books. Tyler, Nevaeh, Jadyn and Grace live and breathe comics. In each Drawn In adventure, their real world collides with the comic book world as colorful heroes, villains, robots and other whimsical creatures escape from the comic book pages – and kids must analyze and formulate how to catch and restore them if they hope to save their town from cartoon chaos! As they pursue the renegade characters, the world around the children changes dramatically: comic book panels become portals, letters become escape routes, sound effects become visible, and illustrations come to life. In each story, children use problem-solving and literacy skills to put their worlds back together.

Like all shows created for a public media audience, Drawn In promises to educate while entertaining. The initiative was designed to meet the educational goals of English and language arts for children aged 6-8, using comics to create a bridge between learning to read and reading to learn.

Black and brown children will see themselves positively represented in each Drawn In story through the characters’ diverse ethnicities, socio-economic circumstances, and different life experiences. Beginning locally in St. Louis, with plans to expand nationwide, the initiative is unique in that it was created with deep input from the communities it is designed to serve. The creative team listened carefully to a panel of Community Advisors before any content was written, drawn or produced to ensure that the stories, setting and characters authentically represent the needs expressed by the Community Advisors.

Family Community Learning (FCL) events are also a key part of the initiative, helping to build a connected community and create a rich and highly engaging story for children to build their literacy skills and understanding of life. reading. The initiative takes a multi-generational approach, encouraging co-viewing and co-reading, and providing supportive resources that help families incorporate literacy activities into their daily lives. Nine PBS created a framework to engage families around Drawn In that could be replicated by PBS stations across the country.

Former chairman of the board of directors of Nine PBS, David Steward II is the lay vice-president of the American public television stations (APTS). He received the APTS Advocacy Award in 2021. Steward II said, “Our partnership with Nine PBS exemplifies our commitment to driving change through public media and fostering diversity of content in the public media landscape across the country. national scale. Drawn In is among the first animated children’s initiatives with African Americans as the main characters in public media. We are motivated to make sure this will be a catalyst for many more. Helping others understand the unique role public television plays in education is something I personally embrace and makes our Drawn In initiative even more rewarding. While advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives, we must begin to see increased diversity in programming that reflects a diverse society. Drawn In does just that and will be a lot of fun in the process.”

“Nine PBS wrote the book about how public media engages local communities around issues that matter to them. For us to implement the vision our local community advisors had for the stories and characters in Drawn In, it was intentional and imperative that we work with a partner like LFA who is 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 to educate, serve and transform our community,” says Amy Shaw, President and CEO of Nine PBS.

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

There are many ways for children and adults to let themselves be “pulled”. Educational games, digital comics and animated shorts will be available on drawin.org. Watch the trailer and find loads of fun and supportive material at drawin.org.

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