Half the time, they won't even look at it.
"I don't get cartoons," they'll say.
What's the expression? "Same planet, different worlds"?
I love comic strips. I use them in the classroom constantly. I put at least one on any quiz or worksheet I give to students; long tests might have as many as six or seven. I put a comic on any permission slip or letter home (you'd be surprised how many of those actually get read that way). I insert them in my PowerPoints.
This post is about how and where I find comic strips (and a few other things).
Step One - The Proper Mental State
The important thing, when reading comic strips (or anything else, for that matter) is your (well, in this case, my) state of mind. You (okay, me) have to have one idea constantly in the back of you mind - "Oh, that's cool! Is there any way I can use it in the classroom?" This is the same state of mind that most teachers have when visiting a dollar store or GoodWill; I've just expanded it to odd drawings and bad jokes.
Step Two - Bookmarking Websites
Once you have found the website of a comic strip that you like, you should bookmark it so that you can find it again quickly and easily. I visit comic strip websites just about every day, so I've made a folder in my bookmark tab just for comic strips and a few other sites that I visit frequently. (See photo, above.)
Step Three - How To Save a Comic Strip For Later Use
It's actually pretty simple.
Right-click the image and choose the, "Save image as..." option.
Consideration Four (It's not really a step.) - Is It Legal?
I have no idea.
My understanding of copyright law (which is hazy at best) is that as long as a teacher isn't making any money or depriving the original artist of any revenue, it is kosher for him or her to use this sort of material in a classroom setting. If you are really worried about the legality of this, consult your school's Librarian.
Okay - So What Comic Strips Do I Read?
In no particular order, here are the websites I visit at least two or three times per week:
Arlo and Janis:
This is the comic strip that most reminds me of my own marriage. He makes a lot of bad jokes. She rolls her eyes a lot. I find myself emailing one of these strips to my wife at work at least once a week.
And even though I can't see her, I know she rolls her eyes.
This website hosts an archive of political cartoons from issues of Harper's Weekly, a very influential magazine during the 19th Century. Each day, the webpage features a comic that ran on that day in history, with a very detailed explanation of its historical context. Clicking on the comic will bring up a large, high(ish) resolution copy of it.
These comics are mostly useful for teachers of American History, but for us, they are very useful.
This comic strip is just silly. It's good to have a go-to comic that is dependably goofy.
The Washington Post Comics Page
These are comic strips that appear in the the print edition of the Washington Post (plus a few that they only put in online). These are your basic, read-everyday-in-your-daily-paper comic strips.
I happen to like: Adam, Boondocks, Close To Home, Dilbert, Doonesbury, F-Minus, For Better or Worse, Non Sequitur, Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine, Pickles, Stone Soup, Tom the Dancing Bug, and Zits.
Your preferences will probably vary.
While very funny and occasionally touching, this is very, VERY often Not Safe For Work. Nevertheless, I have found several very good, useful comic strips for the classroom here.
(Okay - that's not true. This is almost never useful in the classroom, but it is still worth reading every day.)
These are the comic strips that are taped up on the doors at the labs at Cal Tech and M.I.T. They are funny, smart and often incomprehensible to people without a PhD in Physics or Computer Science. This is the second-best source for Science and Math comic strips.
Another Rarely-Safe-For-Work strip. A work of quiet genius.
Often off-color, almost always brilliant, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is the single best source for Math and Science comics.
And pure goofiness.
An odd, disjointed comic strip made from seemingly random photographs, this is an unexpectedly habit-forming comic strip.
A comic strip about a corporation of super-villains, many of whom are scantily-clad, beautiful women.
Is there anything more to be said?
This is a very sweet, subversively funny comic strip about an owl who is raising a pair of human orphans in a tree. His best friend is a bear.
This is another truly odd comic strip made up of antique Victorian illustrations that is...
Just another goofy comic strip.
The continuing adventures of a 6th grade boy. This is a great source of Life-In-Middle-School comic strips.
A funny, sophisticated grown-up comic strip that often veers into startling silliness.
I'm not posting a clip from this comic strip, because not even the ads on this webpage are safe for work. And yet, if it isn't a work of genius, it lives next-door to it.
Updated only sporadically, this is a very funny strip about a couple with children of various ages, including one with severe autism. If there is a good, laughing-at-the-situation-not-at-the-person comic strip about autism, this is it.
The title says it all.
This website posts comic strips that somebody hasn't gotten and readers try to explain them. Some of the strips are hysterically funny.
A middle school seen from the point of view of a janitor. Again, a very useful source of general Life-In-Middle-School strips.
A collection of seemingly random, but really fascinating photographs from the mid-1800s through the 1950s.
Wikipedia's Picture of the Day
You never know what this will be. Sometimes it's brilliant.
For some reason, a lot of the time, it's a butterfly.
This is a great collection of sound files from television shows, movies and commercials. A new sound clip is added each day.
I hope this has been useful for you. Please though, for the love of all that is good and positive in the Universe - do NOT use Family Circus in your classroom.
There is enough horror and suffering in the world already.
Coming Soon - Blogs!