Joshua Elder

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General Information

Name: Joshua Elder

Pen Name: Josh Elder

Genres: Fiction

Born: May 17, 1980 in Carmi, Illinois






Illinois Connection

Elder was born in Carmi. He graduated from Northwestern Illinois University in Evanston and lived in Chicago for many years.

Biographical and Professional Information

Josh Elder is a journalist, lecturer and writer, primarily of comic books and graphic novels. He is an award-winning comic book author and the creator (along with artist Erich Owen) of the graphic novel series and nationally syndicated comic strip Mail Order Ninja. A former associate editor at Wizard Magazine, Elder also serves as graphic novel reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times and Director of Operations for the literacy advocacy group Kids Love Comics, a non-profit organization that promotes literacy and the arts using comics, graphic novels and manga.

He learned to read at age four after his mother lost her voice while reading him the latest issue of the Transformers comic book series. Josh was so into the story that he had to make sure Optimus Prime, leader of the heroic Autobots was going to be all right. So, he used the images to figure out the story and looked up every word he didn’t already know. Within a week, he was reading, and comics have been his constant literary companions ever since. Now he travels all over the country talking about the value of comics as an artform, as a teaching tool and as a way to change lives for the better.

Josh’s events fall into three general categories: workshops, lectures, and professional development. The workshops are aimed at groups of up to 60 and consist of a lecture on what comics are, how they’re made and why they’re awesome followed by a Q&A session and hands-on, how-to instruction on creating comics. The lectures are used for larger groups (in the hundreds) of kids, teens and/or adults, with the content tailored to fit the needs of the specific audience. The professional development includes setting up teacher/librarian symposiums on graphic novels, speaking on informational panels at conferences and seminars and working directly with teachers and librarians to help develop comic-centric programming and curriculum.

Elder has spoken to classrooms of a dozen or so students and in auditoriums of over 350. He’s worked with children as young as five and with grandparents in their seventies. He’s been a guest lecturer at Northwestern University, Grinnell College and the Illinois Institute of Art. He’s hosted events for all ages at libraries in Boston, Chicago, New York City and St. Louis. He’s been a guest of honor at literary festivals in Charleston, North Carolina and Halifax, Nova Scotia. He’s served as a consultant to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and done professional development for the New York Public School system and DePaul University.

Currently, Josh is working with a non-profit organization called Reading With Pictures, a program dedicated to bringing comics into the classroom. He's working with Northwestern University to fund and facilitate several national studies on comics in education as well as providing numerous resources to help teachers, parents and students make the best use of existing materials and find out how to use new materials in the most effective ways. To access his interviews and additional information about the program, go to: Educators can click here to access the Reading with Pictures Teachers Guide.

Josh is also founding a company that plans to create a database (not unlike netlibrary) of comics for use in schools in libraries. While they are still collecting usage stats and other information from libraries, the company's initial investigations indicates that they can cut the average checkout cost of any given title in half while providing access to thousands of titles. Josh and company believe this will be a gamechanging moment for graphic novels in schools and libraries and are looking to pick the brains of anyone out there interested in this type of development.

Published Works

Mail Order Ninja Series:

  • Volume 1, TokyoPop, 2006
  • Volume 2, TokyoPop, 2006

StarCraft: Frontline Series:

  • Volume 1, TokyoPop, 2008 - written with Paul Benjamin, Dave Shramek
  • Volume 2, TokyoPop, 2009 - written with Grace Randolph
  • Volume 3, TokyoPop, 2009 - written with Grace Randolph, Ren Zatopek, Paul Benjamin, Dave Shramek
  • Volume 4, TokyoPop, 2009 - written with Chris Metzen, Hector Sevilla, David Gerrold, Ruben de Vala, Paul Benjamin, Dave Shramek, Mel San Juan, Ramanda Kamarga

Blizzard Manga Series:

  • Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1, Blizzard Entertainment, 2017 - written with Ramanda Kamarga, Naohiro Washio, Richard A. Knaak, Paul Benjamin

Stand Alone Titles:

  • Rising Stars of Manga Volume 5, TokyoPop 2005
  • Love Bytes, Platinum Studios, 2007
  • Reading With Pictures: Comics That Make Kids Smarter, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2014
  • Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, DC Comics, 2015

Titles at Your Library

Mail Order Ninja, Vol. 1

ISBN: 1598167286
Release Date: 2006-07-11

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StarCraft: Frontline Volume 1 (Starcaft) (v. 1)

ISBN: 1427807213
Release Date: 2008-08-12

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StarCraft: Frontline Volume 2 (v. 2)

ISBN: 1427808317
Release Date: 2008-12-30

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StarCraft: Frontline Volume 3

ISBN: 1427808325
Release Date: 2009-07-15

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StarCraft: Frontline Volume 4

ISBN: 1427816980
Release Date: 2009-11-15

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Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1 (Blizzard Manga)

ISBN: 1945683996
Release Date: 2017-04-11

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Rising Stars of Manga Volume 5

ISBN: 1595328157
Release Date: 2005-08-09

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Reading With Pictures: Comics That Make Kids Smarter

ISBN: 1449458785
Release Date: 2014-08-05

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Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure

ISBN: 1401249264
Release Date: 2015-02-17

Find on World Cat

Literary Awards

Mail Order Ninja

  • Grand Prize Winner, Rising Stars of Manga, 2005
  • 25 Great Graphic Novels for Kids List, School Library Journal

Reading With Pictures: Comics That Make Kids Smarter

  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2017

Speaking Engagements and Upcoming Appearances

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

Elder's standard fees are listed below. He will negotiate to accommodate smaller organizations and venues "just so long as he gets to spread the good news that is comics." Elder can be contacted via email -


Single Workshop/Lecture:

  • $250 in the Chicago Area
  • $300 + Expenses everywhere else

All-Day Event:

  • $500 in the Chicago Area
  • $600 + Expenses everywhere else


  • Varies

External Links

Joshua Elder on WorldCat


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