This is a guest post by Ms. Mathilde Schneider, Head of Communications, Agence Française de Développement.
Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has teamed up with Angoulême, one of Europe’s largest comics festival, and famous French comic book artist “Jul” to create “Coloc of Duty”, a free comic book all about sustainable development and the SDGs.
In 26 offbeat comic strips, “Coloc of Duty” follows the lives of roommates Sara, Salomé and Kevin, who welcome a newcomer, Edmund, into their midst. Edmund represents our “World in common” (AFD’s motto), and his arrival provokes a series of discussions among the roommates about our collective responsibility for the planet.
Jul likes to use well-known pop culture references to create quirky titles. “Coloc” means “roomie” in French, and the book’s title is a reference to the popular “Call of Duty” video game.
The book captures all of the virtues of a great comic: it provokes pleasure, laughter and reflection among its readers, reminding us that we are all just “roommates” on the same planet. It triggers curiosity and can thus help raise awareness and prompt actions among audiences that may not initially be receptive to SDG messages.
“Coloc of duty” addresses a wide range of issues, including social and gender inequalities, climate change and global health. In each comic strip, one of the roommates shares an insight on a given issue, and each strip is followed by a pedagogical text that presents key facts, advice on what readers can do, and an example of a related AFD project.
“Coloc of Duty” was distributed widely at the Angoulême festival, which attracted more than 200,000 visitors this year. The book received significant coverage in the French media and social networks.
As a next step, AFD will distribute 15,000 free copies through French comic book stores and NGOs working in the field of international solidarity. We will soon have distributed 40,000 copies of the book! In addition, a partnership with the national education system might be set up to invite teachers to use “Coloc of Duty” as an educational tool.
For the time being, the comic book is only available in French, but given the positive feedback, AFD is now considering a full large-format comic book that could be translated for a worldwide audience. We would be more than glad to share should you be interested in your own country!