Picture
At least twice a week, I find a great comic strip - one that's really funny, that addresses a topic totally up the alley of one of the people I work with, one that I know they'll really dig - and I'll take it to them. I'll smile a little to myself as I hand it over, knowing how much they'll enjoy it. I even mentally prepare myself for all the praise that I know they'll shower on me.

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:

Picture

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.

Picture

Harpweek.com

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.


Picture
Mr. Boffo

This comic strip is just silly. It's good to have a go-to comic that is dependably goofy.


Picture

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.


Picture
Questionable Content
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.)




Picture
XKCD

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.


Picture
Girls With Slingshots

Another Rarely-Safe-For-Work strip. A work of quiet genius.




Picture
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal


Often off-color, almost always brilliant, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is the single best source for Math and Science comics.


And pure goofiness.





Picture
A Softer World

An odd, disjointed comic strip made from seemingly random photographs, this is an unexpectedly habit-forming comic strip.


Picture
Evil Inc.

A comic strip about a corporation of super-villains, many of whom are scantily-clad, beautiful women. 

Is there anything more to be said?


Picture
Daisy Owl

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.



Picture
Wondermark

This is another truly odd comic strip made up of antique Victorian illustrations that is...

...well, wonderful.


Picture
Rhymes With Orange

Just another goofy comic strip.






Picture
Big Nate

The continuing adventures of a 6th grade boy. This is a great source of Life-In-Middle-School comic strips.




Picture
9 Chickweed Lane

A funny, sophisticated grown-up comic strip that often veers into startling silliness.




Something Positive

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.
Picture
Clear Blue Water

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.


Comics I Don't Understand

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.

Picture
Fraz

A middle school seen from the point of view of a janitor. Again, a very useful source of general Life-In-Middle-School strips.




Other Websites I Check On Every Day While I'm Reading My Comics:



Picture
Shorply.com

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.



Picture
The Daily .wav

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!

1/14/2010 00:29:58

What a great idea! I run across comic strips occasionally and use them with colleagues and students but hadn't thought to use them as a regular resource. Students love when we use humor to introduce a subject or make them think differently about something. Humor takes higher order thinking skills. Both things that I would like more of. Thank you for the list of comics to get me started!

Reply
3/3/2010 14:31:05

Ballard Street !!! 8.73 of 10 are keepers.

http://comics.com/ballard_street/

I absolutely love your blog. Thank you for the myriad ideas. This series on "Where Do You Get This Stuff?" is incredibly stimulating and useful.

Reply
12/28/2010 23:48:34

Check out this comic site.

Reply
Diana
12/28/2010 23:50:09

Oops forgot the site. www.blackboard daze.com

Reply



Leave a Reply.