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Teaching with Comics

Getting Started- Teaching With Comics

Comics have been in existence since the end of the 19th century, but it was after the depression that the popularity of newspaper cartoons expanded into a major industry.

Most agree the comics were  born with the launch of Superman in 1938. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman is possibly the most recognizable comic book character to this day.

The "Comics Genres" for students

Funny animal is a genre of comics and animated cartoons in which the main characters are animals who live as humans, also themselves referred to as "funny animals". Funny animals are typically bipedal, wear clothes, live in houses, drive vehicles, and have jobs, which distinguish them from other animal cartoon characters who nonetheless display anthropomorphic characteristics such as speaking in human language or displaying facial expressions.

Metacomic is a metafictional comics style in which the characters realize that they are living in a comic. In a metacomic, the characters are able to take advantage of the comic's structure to progress in the storyline. In brief, metacomic is a comic about a comic.

Superhero comics are the most common genre of American comic books.

Text comics or a text comic is a genre of comics where the stories are told in captions below the images and without the use of speech balloons. It's the oldest genre of comics. A text comic is published as a series of illustrations that can be read as a continuous story. However, within the illustrations themselves no text is used: no speech balloons, no onomatopoeias, no written indications to explain where the action takes place or how many time passed. In order to understand what is happening in the drawings the reader has to read the captions below each image, where the story is written out in the same style as a novel.

A gag cartoon (a.k.a. panel cartoon or gag panel) is most often a single-panel cartoon, As the name implies—"gag" being a show business term for a comedic idea—these cartoons are most often intended to provoke laughter.

The Junior Woodchucks of the World are the Scouting organization to which the Disney characters Huey, Dewey, and Louie belong. Later stories introduced a similar organization for girls, the Littlest Chickadees, to which Daisy Duck's nieces, April, May and June belong. The hallmark of the Junior Woodchucks is their spirited dedication to environmental protection and animal welfare, as well as the preservation of knowledge and the furtherance of science.

Start with a storyboard this gets students started thinking how to map out the main elements of their story. The use of rough sketch drawings will help them "see" a scene before they start drawing.  


Along with brainstorming the elements of the story (setting, problem/resolution) and character development, the storyboard is a valuable tool for planning out a project. A storyboard helps keep a focus on the story itself.


Here is a sample storyboard from a sixth grade/second grade collaborative  project. You can also download a blank storyboard to use.

(Download the storyboard)

Other resources

Make Belief Comics

Comic Strip Challenge

Write and Develop a Storyboard for your Comic

Exploring Comic Strips

Using Cartoons and Comic Strips

Read Write Comic Creator