Whereas comics and graphic novels were once derided as “debased” texts unworthy of consideration in the academic classroom, they have recently gained more acceptance as valid educational resources. In fact, graphic narratives have a long history of success in terms of instruction and engagement, stretching back millennia. Comics can be very effective in academic settings, especially in library instruction, due to their engaging and participatory nature, as well as their ability to model behaviors and imbed lessons within a greater narrative. Many college and university instructors already utilize comics in their classrooms in a variety of manners, from examining existing comics as historical artifacts to intentionally creating comics for instructional purposes and even allowing students to produce their own comics.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Abraham, L. (2009). Effectiveness of cartoons as a uniquely visual medium for orienting social issues. Journalism & Communication Monographs, 11(2), 117–165.

Aiken, K. G. (2010). Superhero history: Using comic books to teach U.S. history. OAH Magazine of History, 24(2), 41–47.

Charland, G., Blackburn, H., & Wise, K. (2012). Legends of the library ninjas: A quest for knowledge. Retrieved from http://issuu.com/libraryninja/docs/legendsofthelibraryninjasthequestforknowledge

Cheesman, K. (2006). Using comics in the science classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 35(4), 48–51.

Decker, A. C., & Castro, M. (2012). Teaching history with comic books: A case study of violence, war, and the graphic novel. History Teacher, 45(2), 169–188. Retrieved from http://www.societyforhistoryeducation.org/pdfs/Decker_and_Castro.pdf

Detmering R., & Johnson A.M. (2012). Research papers have always seemed very daunting: Information literacy narratives and the student research experience. Portal Portal, 12(1), 5–22.


Di Raddo, P. (2006). Teaching chemistry lab safety through comics. Journal of Chemical Education, 83(4), 571–573. doi:10.1021/ed083p571

Diamond Bookshelf. (2008). Graphic storytelling and the new literacies: An interview with NCTE educator Peter Gutiérrez. Retrieved from ttp://www.diamondbookshelf.com/Home/1/1/20/182?articleID=74165

Downey, E. M. (2009). Graphic novels in curriculum and instruction collections. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49(2), 181–188. Retrieved from http://racomics.pbworks.com/f/GN%27s+for+Instruction.pdf

Duffy, D. (2010). Out of the margins ... into the panels: Toward a theory of comics as a medium of critical pedagogy in library instruction. In M. T. Accardi, E. Drabinski, & A. Kumbier (Eds.), Critical library instruction: Theories and methods (pp. 199–219). Duluth, MN: Library Juice Press.

Eisner, W. (1985). Comics & sequential art. Tamarac, Fla.; Guerneville, Calif.: Poorhouse Press?; Distributed by Eclipse Books.

Gerde, V. W., & Foster, R. S. (2008). X-Men ethics: Using comic books to teach business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 77(3), 245–258.

Gillenwater, C. (2009). Lost literacy: How graphic novels can recover visual literacy in the literacy classroom. Afterimage, 37(2), 33–36.

Gonick, L. (1990). The cartoon history of the universe: Volumes 1-7, from the Big Bang to Alexander the Great. New York: Doubleday.

Gonick, L. (1994). The cartoon history of the universe II: Volumes 8-13, from the springtime of China to the fall of Rome. New York: Doubleday.

Gonick, L. (2002). The cartoon history of the universe III: From the rise of Arabia to the Renaissance. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Hall, C. M., & Upson, M. (2011). Library of the living dead: Your guide to Miller Library at McPherson College. McPherson, KS: Atomic Raygun Comics. Retrieved from http://blogs.mcpherson.edu/library/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Library-of-the-Living-DeadOnline-Edition.pdf

Hall, C. M., & Upson, M. (2012). Monster clash: Using the Wilton Library...ferociously! Wilton, CT: Atomic Raygun Comics. Retrieved from http://www.wiltonlibrary.org/monster-clash/

Hall, K. J., & Lucal, B. (1999). Tapping into parallel universes: Using superhero comic books in sociology courses. Teaching Sociology, 27(1), 60–66.

Herbst, P., Chazan, D., Chen, C.-L., Chieu, V.-M., & Weiss, M. (2010). Using comics-based representations of teaching, and technology, to bring practice to teacher education courses. ZDM, 43(1), 91–103.

Horn, M. (1999). The world encyclopedia of comics (Vols. 1-7). Philadelphia: Chelsea House.

Hosler, J., & Boomer, K. B. (2011). Are comic books an effective way to engage nonmajors in learning and appreciating science? CBE Life Sciences Education, 10(3), 309–317.

Jacobs, D. (2007). More than words: Comics as a means of teaching multiple literacies. The English Journal, 96(3), 19–25.

Kennepohl, D., & Roesky, H. W. (2008). Drawing attention with chemistry cartoons. Journal of Chemical Education, 85(10), 1355–1360.

Lewis, M. J. (2003). Cartooning, left and right. Commentary, 116(3), 67–72.

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics?: The invisible art. New York: HarperPerennial.

McCloud, S. (2006). Making comics?: Storytelling secrets of comics, manga and graphic novels. New York: Harper.

McLuhan, M. (1960). Classroom without walls. In E. Carpenter & M. McLuhan (Eds.), Explorations in communication: An anthology. Boston: Beacon Press.

McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media: The extensions of man. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Negrete, A., & Lartigue, C. (2004). Learning from education to communicate science as a good story. Endeavour, 28(3), 120–124. doi:10.1016/j.endeavour.2004.07.003

O'English, L., Matthews, J. G., & Lindsay, E. B. (2006). Graphic novels in academic libraries: From Maus to manga and beyond. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(2), 173–182.

Pilcher, T., & Brooks, B. (2005). The essential guide to world comics. London: Collins & Brown.

Pink, D. H. & Ten Pas, R. (2008). The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need. Riverhead Trade.

Schwarz, G. (2006). Expanding literacies through graphic novels. The English Journal, 95(6), 58–64.

Schwarz, G. (2007). Media literacy, graphic novels and social issues. Simile, 7(4), 1–11. Retrieved from http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x1611725454724x3/fulltext.pdf

Schwarz, G. (2010). Graphic novels. Curriculum & Teaching Dialogue, 12(1/2), 43–65.

Short, J., Bauer, T., Ketchen, D. J., & Simon, L. (2011). Atlas Black?: The complete adventure. Irvington, NY: Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

Short, J. C., & Reeves, T. C. (2009). The graphic novel: A ?cool? format for communicating to Generation Y. Business Communication Quarterly, 72(4), 414–430. doi:10.1177/1080569909336464

Silver, M., Archer, J., Hobbs, B., Eckert, A., Conner, M., & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.). (2011). Preparedness 101: Zombie pandemic. Retrieved from http://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo22985

Smith, S. W. (2007). Academaesthetics: How the essay and comic can save each other. Text, 11(2), 1–55. Retrieved from http://www.textjournal.com.au/oct07/smith.htm

Tatalovic, M. (2009). Science comics as tools for science education and communication: A brief, exploratory study. SISSA, 8(4), 1–17. Retrieved from http://jcom.sissa.it/archive/08/04/Jcom0804%282009%29A02/Jcom0804%282009%29A02.pdf

Upson, M. (2012). Library Comics! Matt Upson - Librarian. Retrieved from http://upsonlibrarian.weebly.com/library-comics.html

Upson, M., & Hall, C. M. (2011). Zombie attacks: How they can contribute to the success of your library. College & Research Libraries News, 72(7), 390–393. Retrieved from http://crln.acrl.org/content/72/7/390.full

Upson, M., & Hall, C. M. (2012a). Sundown at the library: How to use your Coffeyville Community College library. Coffeyville, KS: Atomic Raygun Comics. Retrieved from http://www.coffeyville.edu/library/Guide-to-the-Graham-Library.cfm

Upson, M., & Hall, C. M. (2012b). Supreme librarians in metaspace. Emporia, KS: Atomic Raygun Comics. Retrieved from http://slim.emporia.edu/index.php/new-slim-comic-takes-librarians-intometaspace/