Free Comics, and Resources on COVID-19, in Graphic Form

The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered schools. With libraries, bookstores, and comic shops mostly off-limits as well, readers are going online, and publishers and creators have responded with free comics and related resources. Here’s a look at those offerings.
 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered schools and workplaces. With libraries, bookstores, and comic shops mostly off-limits as well, readers are turning to online sources, and publishers and creators have responded with free comics and related resources. Here’s a look at those offerings.
 

Coronavirus comic by Malaka Gharib on NPR’s “Goats and Soda” blog
Courtesy of NPR

 

Just the facts

Informational comics about COVID-19

Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus (NPR) is based on interviews with experts and drawn by Malaka Gharib, author of the graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream. Print and fold it into a minicomic; versions are available in Chinese and Spanish.

  • Comics for Good (Weiman Kow) is a website that publishes a new COVID-19 comic every week. Each includes an introduction to the coronavirus and comics on topics such as handwashing, masks, and staying at home. comicsforgood.com
  • COVID-19 Myths, Debunked (Whit Taylor and Allyson Shwed) tackles some of the misinformation around the coronavirus. thenib.com/covid-19-myths-debunked
  • The Side Eye: Viruses vs. Everyone (Toby Morris) explains how the virus spreads by looking at three levels: individual cells, individual people, and the global population.
  • Skating on Thin Ice (Robert Ullman) covers the cancelation of the Stanley Cup in 1918 due to the Spanish flu.
  • Hand Washing Like a Pro (Ellen Forney) turns hand washing into a fun story. wapo.st/3c6IEem
  • Graphic Medicine A collection of online COVID-19 comics as well as links to and reviews of graphic novels about the experience of illness. bit.ly/3ci26Fc

With most physical libraries closed, readers are also turning to the library ebook services OverDrive and hoopla. With OverDrive, different libraries have different holdings, and only one person can borrow a copy of an ebook at a time, which means popular books often have waiting lists. OverDrive’s Libby app does make the service easier to navigate.

Ellen Forney’s Hand Washing Like a Pro

Hoopla doesn’t limit the number of users who can borrow a book, so there are no waiting lists, and the same collection is available to all libraries that use it. There’s a wide selection of graphic novels, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic hoopla has expanded accessibility with “bonus borrows” that don’t count against a borrower’s limits. Titles available on the service include “Big Nate,” Jerry Craft’s award-winning New Kid, and Terri Libenson’s Positively Izzy. Users who want to sign up for either service should check with their library.

 

Free comics and activities

Publishers are offering free comics and downloadable activities for homeschooling parents and children.

Andrew McMeel’s AMP Kids imprint, which published “Big Nate,” “Phoebe and Her Unicorn,” and “Stinky Cecil,” is offering a free graphic novel, downloadable as a PDF, every Tuesday to anyone who signs up for its newsletter through at least mid-May. Find teaching guides and activities on the AMP Kids Resources page.

Papercutz has put together a COVID-19 E-Book Care Package of four graphic novels, which are available as PDFs for free download from the website, and are also available for free on the ComiXology platform. The four titles are the first volumes of “Dinosaur Explorers,” “Chloe,” “Geeky Fab Five,” and “The Smurfs.” The books will be available at least until April 15, and Papercutz is also offering 25 percent off on all print graphic novels ordered through its site.

Toon Books has a number of resources on its website. The Professor Garfield Toon Book Reader enables users to read a selection of Toon titles onscreen in English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese, with a read-aloud option. The Toon website also offers a cartoon maker activity, downloadable lesson plans and activities, and, for grown-ups, free access to its guidebook Comics: Easy as ABC!

Retired math teacher Jim McLain is offering his math comic, Solution Squad, as a free PDF for educational use, with daily math lessons to go with it.

John Patrick Green, creator of InvestiGators, which features a pair of goofy alligator detectives, has assembled some InvestiGators activity pages , including a maze and drawing lessons.

The Phoenix is a smart, funny UK comic, offering short stories and activities for readers ages seven to 14. With the advent of COVID-19, the editors have created the Phoenix Q Club (#PhoenixQClub), providing daily activities, puzzles, and short comics.

Gene Luen Yang led a virtual book tour for his new graphic novel,Dragon Hoops, on Instagram, creating a series of short comics discussing his work and answering questions. His current project, also on Instagram, is March Math Madness, a math tournament of sorts in which teams progress by solving math problems. Download the worksheets on Yang’s website.

The folks at Nobrow have put together activity kits based on their graphic novels and the Flying Eye picture books. Look for them on the Nobrow blog.

DC has launched DC Kids Camp, which makes available drawing lessons and other activities on its DC KidsInstagram and Twitter.

Teacher Tim Smyth has posted a list of free online educational comics and resources on a variety of topics on his website, History Comics and Comics in Education .

 

Options for a fee

In commercial offerings, ComiXology, the largest digital comics platform, provides a selection of free comics, including children’s titles. ComiXology only allows purchases on its website, but the comics can then be synced across the user’s other devices and work on most smartphones and tablets. All users must create an account, even to access free comics.

The ComiXology Unlimited service provides access to more than 25,000 titles from multiple publishers. The fee is $6 per month, and ComiXology has currently extended its free trial period from 30 to 60 days for those who want to give it a spin.

Amazon owns ComiXology, so there is some overlap between Kindle Unlimited (which includes graphic novels) and ComiXology Unlimited, but many graphic novels are available on only one or the other.

Marvel Unlimited costs $9.99 per month and offers access to more than 27,000 Marvel comics, from the very first issues to titles published six months ago.

Archie Unlimited offers access to thousands of comics from Archie’s extensive back catalog for $8 per month.

Comics provider Izneo carries European and American titles as well as manga. Izneo Premium, its unlimited service, offers unlimited access to 1,800 graphic novels for $8 per month, with a one-month free trial.

Viz Media offers the first and the most recent chapters of many Shonen Jump manga on its Shonen Jump site, and its paid subscription service features more than 10,000 chapters of “Naruto,” “My Hero Academia,” and other titles for a monthly fee of $2, with a one-week free trial.

 
Author Image
Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, editor of the “Good Comics for Kids” blog, writes “Stellar Panels” SLJ’s graphic novels column. 

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