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Staff

Jeff Barbanell, Interim Executive Director

Color headshot of Jeff Barbanell

Like many wannabe maverick dudes of the New West, Jeff saw the frontier of comics literacy advocacy while meandering through several hobby and work pathways. A product of 1960s Long Island (NY), Jeff’s early interest in comics and collecting traces back to the comps DC artist Al Plastino passed to his Uncle James. Reading illustrated mythology in preschool, Jeff gravitated to young adult adventure and science fiction by the age of 10, winning a 3rd grade library contest. Steeped in Japanimation, Star Trek and Irwin Allen shows on TV, he kept his voracious reading habit fed with spy novels and speculative fiction. Were civil rights and Woodstock generation’s musical influences, combined with comics’ and SF’s otherworldly psychedelic nature, what made Jeff ready to mosey on to 1970s Arizona? Who knows how many careers could evolve for a geeky science nerd who loves words and art?

With real world currency gained working at El Rancho Market until college (1974), Jeff kept an eye on pop-subcultural references with historical and cultural agency (aka “memes”). Pursuing English and Sociology studies in Northfield (MN) cemented research skills honed as he broadcast a weekly playlist of folk/prog/punk DJing for KRLX radio. Catching the hotel management bug on break, working cross-country, and then moving to Flagstaff (AZ) in 1985 maintained the happy trail. Stumbling upon the CompuServe Comics Forum in 1984 connected to a community undreamt of, but one might marvel at the distinguished crew gathered online a dial-up away. When they got hitched and co-created two sharp, innovative children, Jeff’s wife ponied up, doing double-duty running Evergreen Inn and Images Illustrated on Route 66. Immersed in the burgeoning indie and British Invasion comics’ halcyon days with trailblazing tunes sound-tracking a bucolic lifestyle in the background, it was the Best of Times. What could go wrong? With the hotel sold to owner/operators and falling prey to the comics industry’s 1990s excesses, the couple closed shop and built Planned Brokerage Solutions from the strong financial foundation Jeff’s father created in Phoenix (AZ). Expanding his presentation skills in tandem with Microsoft Suite and the World Wide Web, they created a book of residual income, funding his foothold in the educational comics space.

Fast forward to 2008, Jeff’s “Shooter’s Marvelesque” saw publication in Sequart’s Teenagers From the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes. Taking the Great Recession as a sign to complete a Masters in Elementary Education at Arizona State, Jeff staked out student teaching middle school Humanities. This hybrid of History and Literacy lent itself to comics-based lessons, aligning with Science and Social Studies State Standards. After degree completion, financial services lured him back, still creating educational resources for professional development at Insurance, Comics and Literacy Conferences, serving in leadership on several industry and nonprofit boards.Jeff also kept his hand in the classroom with stints at Scottsdale Unified School District, supporting whole class 4th and 5th grade in 2014/2015 school year and 1st-5th grade intervention in 2017/2018. While achieving certification in Gifted/Talented and Career/Technical Education, plus coursework in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Jeff joined the Reading With Pictures Executive Board as Treasurer, earning the Executive Director badge in 2020.

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