Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Joshua Elder  

Pen Name: Josh Elder

Genre: C:YA 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 [!-comics-for-kids-teacher-guides/reading-with-pictures-teachers-guide.pdf?sfvrsn=6 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 Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- '''''Mail Order Ninja''''' *Grand Prize Winner, Rising Stars of Manga, 2005 *25 Great Graphic Novels for Kids List, School Library Journal '''''Reading With Pictures