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BMCC Student's Idea Sparks Federal Reserve Comic Book Exhibit

Comic excerpts from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Comic excerpts from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
May 21, 2015

A Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Multimedia Arts department student who interned at The Federal Reserve Bank of New York shared an idea that helped lead to an upcoming exhibit showcasing the New York Fed’s historic collection of comic books.

Liana TenorioLiana Tenorio

Liana Tenorio was one of three BMCC students who worked at The Federal Reserve for the past 24 weeks through the CUNY Service Corps program at BMCC. CUNY Service Corps mobilizes CUNY students, faculty and staff to work on projects that improve the short-and long-term civic, economic and environmental sustainability of New York City, its residents and communities.

Tenorio worked in the bank’s communications department researching and gathering images for the Fed’s blog.

A few weeks into her internship, the Fed’s Department of Outreach and Education asked Tenorio if she would be interested in a more ambitious project organizing the bank’s comic book archives.

 “I didn't even know the Fed published comic books,” said Tenorio. 

The comic book project required proficiency in Illustrator and InDesign, skills that Tenario had mastered in her Typography and Visual Communication classes through BMCC's Multimedia Department.

The Comic Book Vault

Starting in the 1950s, Federal Reserve comic books with titles such as The Story of the Federal Reserve System and A Penny Saved were distributed to high school teachers across the nation. The comics were also available through mail order. The bank published its last edition in 2006. Now there are plans for a new edition, which is why Tenorio was originally asked to organize all the existing material.

Her work entailed separating, labeling and then inputting each publication’s information into Excel and Illustrator to create a chart. Tenorio also had to hunt down several missing editions at websites such as eBay or Amazon. While getting the archives in order, Tenorio also found some of the comic book’s original artist drawings.

The idea for an exhibit

Once the cataloguing was complete, Tenorio approached her supervisor with a proposal.

What if the Fed were to curate an exhibit in the building’s museum space that showcased all the comic books as well as the original drawings?

Tenorio’s boss liked the idea so much she asked Tenorio to help come up with actual floor plans for the exhibit.

“I’ve been drawing the plans by hand and I’ve measured the space available,” she said. “Now, I'm just presenting different ideas of display, colors, sounds and interactive stations for each of the books.” 

Adrian Franco, director of economic education at The New York Federal Reserve said, Tenorio had researched the history of the Bank’s comic book publications by systematically reviewing more than 50 years of editions and cataloging publications on each narrative.

“To showcase this work, Liana developed a collection of fresh exhibit ideas and designs to feature the comic book collection in the museum,” said Franco. 

Advice to BMCC students

Tenorio said her CUNY Service Corps internship at The Federal Reserve has been significant in both personal and professional ways.

“I’m still in college, and I go and tell people I’m working at the Fed, that is something that catches their attention,” she said.

She said her time at BMCC had been interesting. She advised existing and incoming students to always take advantage of the opportunities, such as Leadership Academies, clubs and student activities on campus.

“A lot of people don’t get involved, and they miss out on a lot of opportunities,” said Tenorio. 

Tenorio is set to graduate in December and plans to start at Baruch College (CUNY) in Spring 2016 as a communication major.

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  • BMCC Multimedia Arts major Liana Tenorio interned at Federal Reserve Bank
  • Tenorio organized Fed's comic book archive
  • Tenorio drew up plans for interactive displays

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