Case study: a comic for the Red Cross

The British Red Cross asked Karrie Fransman to research, write and illustrate a comic for Refugee Week 2014. They introduced her to Ebrahim, a teenage refugee from Iran, and she drew his story. You can read it here.

Red Cross ComicAndy Hewett, Refugee Support Development Manager for the Red Cross, explains why they chose to commission a comic, and their objectives for the project:

We were really keen to find a different type of medium to tell the story of someone who had been forced to leave their home – something that would be emotive, engaging and powerful – and using the comic book style seemed perfect. We also wanted to reach a different kind of audience, to connect with a group of people that might not ordinarily come across the Red Cross or Refugee Week which was another reason we were thrilled when Karrie agreed to work with us. Using illustration helped us to cut through the politics of asylum and refugee issues and get to the heart of what is really happening to millions of people around the world by telling the story through the eyes of a teenage boy striving to find somewhere safe to live”.

The Red Cross have been delighted with the success and longevity of the project, telling us:

– Online the comic has received nearly 10,000 views since it was launched last year. People spend an average of 5 minutes on the page, which means they really are reading it. This is well above the usual shorthand stuff that we post – so all in all it is very popular and reaching a lot of people.
– We printed a further 4,000 comics which have been distributed at screenings of Bruce Goodison’s film Leave to Remain, and through our refugee services teams at detention centres. Anecdotally, we have been told that many of the asylum seekers who have read the comic really identified with the story and found it really inspiring, which is really nice.
– We received fantastic coverage for it in The Guardian, The Mirror and Creative Review.
– Karrie was invited to do a TEDx talk about the comic, with an audience of 400 Manchester students and broadcast through TED channels worldwide.
– We reached 22,000 people on Facebook.
– We reached over 3 million people through Twitter. 403 people tweeted the link to the comic, including Simon Pegg (6.8m followers), Neil Gaiman (2.31m followers) and Caroline Lucas (152K followers).
– It was presented and well received at a conference on Refugee Resettlement, attended by the UNHCR, world leaders and other NGOs.
– It was adapted into a teaching resource and sent to schools through our education network, Newsthink. One teacher who used it as a teaching resource with for her secondary school students in west London said that it was one of the best things she has ever shared with her students and that their response to the story was incredible”.

In summing up, Rosie Stewart, PR Officer for the British Red Cross, said:

One of the best things about the comic is its longevity. People are still approaching us about it [12 months later] – wanting to get a copy so that they can share it during subsequent Refugee Weeks. It doesn’t get old and it really resonates with so many people. It’s brilliant and I can tell you that without a doubt it is one of the best things I have worked on while at the Red Cross. No question”.