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Cleveland anglers could get 'Hooked' on new comic strip

Jamie Sale
The Fishing Foundation
"Hooked" is a new monthly comic strip about a group of kids (and sometimes grown ups) from Cleveland who love fishing on Lake Erie.

A new comic strip debuts this month with a racially diverse slate of six kids and four adults who love to fish in Lake Erie. “Hooked” is an extension of the book “Learn to Fish: A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginning Anglers” by Gail Grizzell and Dennis Knowles. The projects sprang from their nonprofit Fishing Foundation, founded in 2010, which introduces hundreds of Northeast Ohio kids to fishing every summer. The two former Ideastream employees teach kids from underserved communities about tying knots, cleaning fish and water safety. They also give each child a free copy of their book and a rod and reel.

“The kids are so receptive to the experience,” Grizzell said. “When we hand them the book and they open it up, they start to smile and say, ‘Look, look, this represents me.’ And that's exactly what we wanted to happen.”

The response sparked an idea for Knowles, a lifelong comics fan, who draws on his two decades of experience with the North Coast Bass Anglers Association.

“Comic strips have a rich history,” he said. “They look at things like politics. They look at events that happened in world history, they look at social issues. We thought that this was a good opportunity because fishing is a social experience.”

Working with UK-based illustrator Jamie Sale, the monthly comic will appear on the Signal Cleveland and Akron websites. Their own website will tie in with printable coloring pages of the characters. Knowles said his gauge for whether a strip is humorous is if it makes Grizzell laugh. The couple also appears as characters in the strip.

“I will be Ranger Gail,” she said. “We’ll see if the kids resonate with a female ranger.”

Ranger Gail will be joined by Captain Denny and other characters who are Black, white and Hispanic – all trying to enjoy a little humor and catch some big fish.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.