By Brenna Everdale
“Brain Bug” magazine was created by KU students Olivia Knowles, Cody Myers and Jesse Warner. Their goal is to make an educational and humorous magazine for children ages seven through 14 and to have content that will also appeal to adults. The comics include references and parodies for the older crowd, while children can appreciate the goofy jokes, puns and “gross” humor. The magazine includes articles, comics and fun facts. Each issue will come with stickers, buttons, postcards or other items.
“Over the summer, me and Jesse were in the car going to a job, and we were talking about how cool it would be to start a ‘Nick Magazine-type thing’— because kids don’t read magazines anymore,” said Knowles, a fine arts major. “We were bouncing ideas back and forth all day and then we were like— let’s just do it,” she said.
A recurring theme of the magazine is the team’s nostalgia for physical media. The team believes that today’s children spend too much time online. All of the images in the full-color magazine are either hand-drawn illustrations or photos taken with a disposable camera, giving the project a charming, retro aesthetic.
Much of the content encourages kids to embrace physical media, such as a postcard that children can send to friends and an article on how to send a letter in the mail.
“The magazine itself doesn’t have any references to technology. It’s kind of like our childhood magazines, but the content is still relevant to their childhood,” said Warner, a public relations and communications major.
The team also wanted to create something that did not offend anyone and wasn’t marketed to any particular group. They purposely chose a gender-neutral color scheme and included characters with a variety of body types. They also tried to avoid ethnocentrism. Each issue will include the comic “Culture Vultures,” which is devoted to this goal. “Culture Vultures” is a crew that goes to other planets and experiences other cultures. The whole thing is just a big allegory for experiencing and dealing with different cultures in real life,” said Myers, the creator of the comic.
Currently, the team is spending money out of their own pockets to get their product released, but they are working regularly with a consultant from the Kutztown Small Business Development Center in order to develop a business plan.
“We have a good team because Cody is a business and marketing major and knows how to manage money, I make a lot of art and Jesse knows how to talk to people…so we work together really well,” said Knowles.
The Brain Bug team is open to submissions from anyone who would like to contribute. The 30-page first issue will debut at “Christmas in Kutztown” on Dec. 6 inside the Kutztown train station. The table will have a do-it-yourself button station so that patrons can make their own buttons, as well as a box of free memorabilia.
The magazine will also be distributed nationwide. As of Nov. 15, you can now pre-order the first issue for $10 online via brainbugmag.com or the Brain Bug Facebook page. The group is also working with a few small businesses in Kutztown, including Firefly Bookstore on Main Street, where they plan to have copies of the magazine sold.