Comics In Education – Annotated Bibliography

The idea of this page is to provide a bibliography of all references which are related to the use of comics, comic strips, and graphic novels for educational purposes in the EFL/ESL classroom.

Comics in the EFL/ESL Classroom (or other L2)

  • Cary, S. (2004) Going Graphic: Comics at Work in the Multilingual Classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Chiera-Macchia, A., & Rossetto, M. (2011). ‘Visual learning is the best learning–it lets you be creative while learning’: exploring ways to begin guided writing in second language learning through the use of comics. [Report]. Babel, 45(2-3), 35+.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]This study investigated the use of comics (Cary, 2004) in a guided writing experience in secondary school Italian language learning. The main focus of the peer group interaction task included the exploration of visual sequencing and visual integration (Bailey, O’Grady-Jones, & McGown, 1995) using image and text to create a comic strip narrative in Italian. A group of 26 year 9 students participated. The 26 students had very limited experience in writing in Italian. This investigation represents phase two of a larger study that explores the development of visual literacy in languages learning (Rossetto & Wyra, 2006). Two sources of data are discussed. Firstly, the students’ ability to use key vocabulary productively is assessed, in consideration of the quality of the narratives produced. Secondly, both the students’ and the Italian teacher’s written reflections on the guided writing experience are analysed. The reflective analyses of the year 9 students were collated and compared to gauge whether the participants considered that working with image and text, in peer group interaction, enhanced or detracted from their ability to express themselves through writing in the target language. The study finds that, in the light of the increasingly visual nature of communication, visual modalities can be an important part of meaning making in second language learning.[/wpex]
  • David-West, A. (2012). Comics, Contractions, and Classics : “At the Sign of the Lion” in the University EFL Classroom. The Journal of the Faculty of Foreign Studies, Aichi Prefectural University. Language and literature, 44, 103-114.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]This paper makes a case for using Mary Jo Duffy’s comic farce “At the Sign of the Lion” in teaching English as a foreign language to middle-high intermediate and advanced university students. An authentic text, the comic uses spoken contractions found in contemporary American English and employs Early Modern English/Shakespearean English, while providing visual context for language comprehension and featuring two well-known characters, Wolverine and Hercules, from American popular culture and ancient Greek mythology.[/wpex]
  • David-West, A. (2012). Sequential Art and Sentence Construction: Wordless Comics in an EFL Context. Mulberry, 61, 141-158.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]This paper combines the ideas of second language education specialist Stephen Cary, sequential art theorist Thierry Groensteen, communication specialists Randy Duncan and Matthew J. Smith, and aesthetic philosopher Susanne K. Langer to argue for the use of wordless comics (sequential pictorial narratives with no linguistic elements) in teaching English as a foreign language. The thesis is that a succession of wordless comic panels (a discursively arranged sequence of meaningful pictures) is analogous to a series of sentences in visual form and that learners of English can practice writing skills, vocabulary choice, and grammar by translating visual sentences into verbal sentences.[/wpex]
  • David-West, A. (2013). Japanese EFL Students and Superman, No. 408: A Fill-It-Up Activity with “The Day the Earth Died.” The Journal of the Faculty of Foreign Studies, Aichi Prefectural University. Language and Literature, 45, 145-157.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]This paper reports on the use of the first five pages of Paul Kupperberg and Ed Hannigan’s Superman, No. 408, story “The Day the Earth Died” in three Communicative English classes at a university in Japan. The comic book material was prepared for a fill-it-up activity, with all text deleted and student pairs instructed to write original narration, speech, and thought. The paper explains why the Kupperberg and Hannigan selection is significant for Japanese EFL students, describes preliminary steps taken in the classroom to help the students understand comics pages and panels, observes how the students engaged with and responded to the pictorial narrative, and discusses written output.[/wpex]
  • Davis, R. (1997) Comics: A Multi-dimensional Teaching Aid in Integrated-skills Classes. [LINK]
  • Derrick, J. (2008) Using Comics with ESL/EFL Students. The Internet TESL Journal, 11(7). [Direct link]
  • D’Hautcourt, A. (2008) Un nouvel outil pour l’apprentissage de la lecture du français: les blogs BD. Journal of Inquiry and Research, 87 (march 2008); Kansai Gaidai University, Hirakata, Japan. [FULL TEXT PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]French Webcomics (“Blogs BD”) provide teachers and learners with excellent material for learning to read in French because they are authentic documents, fun to read, short, and frequently updated. Their graphics aid comprehension, and their content is interesting for Japanese students. Reading Webcomics increases one’s vocabulary, and using them with complete beginners, in a class or alone, should improve motivation for reading French texts. After a discussion of the advantages of French Webcomics for teaching second languages, the article ends with a list of suggested activities for using the Webcomics in the classroom or in independent learning.

      Les blogs BD fournissent un excellent materiel pour l’apprentissage de la lecture de textes francais parce qu’ils constituent des documents authentiques, plaisants et renouveles frequemment, parce que leur comprehension est aidee par des dessins et parce que leurs themes sont susceptibles d’interesser les etudiants japonais. Leur usage, en autonomie ou en classe, permet d’accroitre la motivation des grands debutants, et leur lecture aide l’etudiant a enrichir son vocabulaire d’expressions quotidiennes. Apres une presentation des bienfaits de l’utilisation des blogs, des bandes dessinees et des blogs BD pour l’apprentissage d’une langue etrangere, l’article se termine par une liste de suggestions d’activites a faire en classe ou en apprentissage autonome.[/wpex]

  • Djamel, B. (2007) La bande dessinée comme support didactique dans l’enseignement du FLE.   Synergies Algerie. 1(1) 235-240. [ FULL TEXT PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]L’enfant d’aujourd’hui vit dans l’image, il se nourrit d’images et s’exprime par des images ; il est constamment sollicité par la télévision, les affiches, les bandes dessinées. Sa façon de parler emprunte plus au langage informatique ou à la bande dessinée qu’au livre traditionnel. Son expression relève plus du visuel que de l’ordre des mots dans une phrase.Ce penchant pour l’image et surtout pour les « comics » peut constituer un ensemble d’activités pédagogiques exploitables dans une classe de langue. Il serait aberrant de passer sous silence cet intérêt manifeste de l’enfant apprenant pour tout ce qui est image. Si nos enfants sont capables de passer des heures devant la télévision, nous pensons que ce « goût » peut déclencher des pratiques langagières au sein desquelles il est possible, voire nécessaire, de prendre conscience du système linguistique.[/wpex]
  • Drolet, C. A. (2010). Using  Comics  in  the  Development  of  EFL  Reading  and  Writing. SungKyul University, 123-140. [FULL TEXT]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Reading comprehension research tells us that second language students should be working with authentic materials as much as possible. Moreover, it has been recommended that teachers include extensive reading of authentic material in their writing classes. It follows that ESL teachers have to find ways to connect the English classroom literacy practices to the real world. This is particularly important in EFL settings where realistic samples of everyday language are sorely needed. A strong method to encourage reading is the use of popular texts such as comic strips. Comic books and strips have been suggested as classroom material due to their broad appeal to almost any age group or learner level because they depict real dialogue and culture. Students enjoy the simple style and amusing characters, while at the same time get proven practice in their reading skills. Comic books and strips can act as an intervening step to more difficult ideas: their use can scaffold to more difficult disciplines outside of language arts. This paper presents four methods of using comic strips in the teaching of reading and writing. These sorts of lessons are adaptable to students of various levels, but within this paper specific levels are targeted.[/wpex]
  • Eastment, D. (2009). Comics. ELT Journal, 63(4), 436-438. [Partial free availability]
  • Jones, E. (2010) The Use of Comic Book Style Reading Material in an EFL Extensive Reading Program: A Look at the Changes in Attitude and Motivation to Read in English in a Japanese University. Language Education in Asia. 1(1) 228-241. [FULL TEXT PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Many educators in the EFL field have faced a recurring problem of unmotivated participants unwilling to tackle the difficult task of acquiring reading proficiency in a foreign language (Day & Bamford, 1998; Hitosugi & Day, 2004). Many intensive reading programs involve assigning participants reading material that is thought to be of a suitable level and engaging to the student. Little thought is given to participants choosing their own reading material relevant to their own interests. Extensive reading programs attempt to address this issue by giving a choice of material. This report looks at the results of an extensive reading program in a Japanese women’s university that incorporated comic book style reading materials into its extensive reading program. Changes in attitude and motivation of the participants are discussed, as well as possible future directions for this area of research.[/wpex]
  • Liu, J. (2004). Effects of Comic Strips on L2 Learners’ Reading Comprehension. TESOL Quarterly, 38(2), 225-243. [FULL TEXT – PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]This article reports the results of an experiment investigating the role of comic strips on ESL learners’ reading comprehension. The students’ proficiency levels were estimated, and students were organized into a low intermediate-level proficiency group (low-level students) and a high intermediate-level proficiency group (high-level students). Students in each group were presented with either a high-level text or a low-level text, and the text was presented with or without a comic strip. Two-way and three-way ANOVAs run on data from 107 immediate recall protocols reveal that the low-level students receiving the high-level text with the comic strip scored significantly higher than their counterparts receiving the high-level text only. They also show that providing a comic strip with the high-level text did not enhance the high-level students’ recall. In addition to offering pedagogical suggestions, I discuss results in light of the dual coding theory and refer to other cognitive theories such as mental model, noticing, and the repetition hypothesis.[/wpex]
  • Ousselin, E. (1997). “Ils sont frais, mes menhirs”: Comic strips in the business French class. Journal of Language for International Business, 8(2), 22-35.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Argues that the teaching of business culture and terminology requires a variety of pedagogical resources. Suggests that comic strips, due to their versatility, ease of use and cultural relevance, can usefully complement textbooks and activities commonly used in Business French courses. (12 references)[/wpex]
  • Sossouv, L-F. (2012) Les attitudes d’apprenants taiwanais de langue étrangère à l’égard de la bande dessinée et quelques implications. Linguistik online 55(5). [DIRECT LINK]
  • Tang, G. (1992). The effect of graphic representation of knowledge structures on ESL reading comprehension. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 14, 177-195.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Analysis of the effect of providing a graphic representation of knowledge structures to seventh grade students of English as a Second Language found that the teaching strategy, to which students reacted favorably, facilitated comprehension and immediate recall.[/wpex]
  • Williams, N. (1995). The comic book as course book: why and how. Long Beach, CA: Annual Meeting of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. [ERIC Database, free FULL TEXT PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]This paper describes how comic books are used as instructional materials in an intensive English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) course and discusses the rationale for using them. The students in the course have low-intermediate English language skills with limited discourse and interactive competence. Comic books are used because they are authentic, highly visual, culturally current, use a constant register, and contain limited lexical phrases. Analysis of the language in the specific text used, a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon collection, shows three categories: non-grammar (words and phrases whose meaning can be recovered relatively easily), words, and suprasegmentals (intonation, contrast) and sounds. Nonverbal cues are also found. It is noted that these elements, illustrated in several comic strips from the book, are not often found in traditional second language textbooks. The approach used by the teacher is to guide students in hypothesizing about the language in the cartoons, raise awareness of pragmatics, and emphasize the underlying regularity of language. Student translation of strips into English is used to highlight the role of other elements than lexicon in understanding the text and context. (MSE)[/wpex]
  • 洪歆瑜(2012)。英文漫畫對臺灣EFL學生閱讀理解力之效益 / The Effects of Comic Strips on EFL Learners’ Reading Comprehension in Taiwan (碩士論文) [LINK DATABASE]


Comics in the English classroom (L1)

  • Bowkett, S. (2011). Using comic art to improve speaking, reading and writing. Florence, KY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]”Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing” uses children’s interest in pictures, comics and graphic novels as a way of developing their creative writing abilities, reading skills and oracy. The book’s underpinning strategy is the use of comic art images as a visual analogue to help children generate, organise and refine their ideas when writing and talking about text. In reading comic books children are engaging with highly complex and structured narrative forms. Whether they realise it or not, their emergent visual literacy promotes thinking skills and develops wider metacognitive abilities. “Using Comic Art” not only motivates children to read more widely, but also enables them to enjoy a richer imagined world when reading comics, text based stories and their own written work. The book sets out a range of practical techniques and activities which focus on various aspects of narrative, including: (1) using comic art as a visual organiser for planning writing (2) openings and endings; (3) identifying with the reader, using different genres and developing characters; (4) creating pace, drama, tension and anticipation; (5) includes “Kapow!” techniques to kick start lessons; and (6) an afterword on the learning value of comics. The activities in “Using Comic Art” start from this baseline of confident and competent comic-book readers, and show how skills they already possess can be transferred to a range of writing tasks. For instance, the way the panels on a comic’s page are arranged can serve as a template for organising paragraphs in a written story or a piece of non-fiction writing. The visual conventions of a graphic novel–the shape of speech bubbles or the way the reader’s attention is directed–can inform children in the use of written dialogue and the inclusion of vivid and relevant details. A creative and essential resource for every primary classroom, “Using Comic Art” is ideal for primary and secondary school teachers and TAs, as well as primary PGCE students and BEd, BA Primary Undergraduates.[/wpex]
  • Carter, J. B., & Evensen, E. (2011). Super-powered word study: Teaching words and word parts through comics. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House Pub.
  • Koenke, K. (1981). The careful use of comic books. Reading Teacher, 34, 592-595.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Abstract: Reviews ERIC documents concerned with the use of comic books in the classroom.[/wpex]
  • Monnin, K. (2010). Teaching graphic novels: Practical strategies for the secondary ELA classroom. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House Pub.
  • Morrison, T. G., Bryan, G., & Chilcoat, G. W. (2002). Using Student-Generated Comic Books in the Classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(8), 758-767. [FULL TEXT PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Suggests having students create comic books, particularly as a culminating activity to present their learning at the conclusion of a unit. Describes how comic-book design can be used to help students develop their writing, comprehension, and research skills in a cross-curricular activity. Concludes that by creating and sharing their own comic books, students engage in literacy exploration.[/wpex]
  • Norton, B. (2003). The Motivating Power of Comic Books: Insights from Archie Comic Readers. The Reading Teacher, 57(2), 140-147. [FULL TEXT PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Suggests that the sense of ownership that children have over comic books accounts for the vibrant debate, discussion, and critique of them. Examines whether insights from Archie comics may help teachers reclaim literacy as a meaning-making practice. Concludes that teachers remain ambivalent about the place of comic books within educational practice.[/wpex]
  • Versaci, R. (2001). How comic books can change the way our students see literature: One teacher’s perspective. English Journal, 91 (2), 61-67. [FULL TEXT PDF]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Notes that the primary goal for teaching literature is to encourage students to see themselves as having a voice in the question of what constitutes literary merit by defining reasonable parameters by which to judge a creative work. Discusses how the author uses comic books in most of his composition classes and all of his literature classes.[/wpex]

Comics in the Classroom (General)

  • Bakis, M. (2012). The graphic novel classroom: Powerful teaching and learning with images. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Bitz, M. (2010). When commas meet kryptonite: Classroom lessons from the comic book project. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
  • Bowkett, S. (2011). Using comic art to improve speaking, reading and writing. Florence, KY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.
  • Carter, J. B., & Evensen, E. (2011). Super-powered word study: Teaching words and word parts through comics. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House Pub.
  • DiRaddo, P. (2006). Chemistry for everyone: Teaching chemistry lab safety through comics. Journal of Chemical Education, 83(4), 571.
  • Hall, K. J., & Lucal, B. (1999). Tapping into parallel universes: Using superhero comic books in sociology courses. Teaching Sociology, 27(1), 60–66.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Provides objectives and guidelines for preparing and executing a classroom exercise using superhero comic books. Discusses variations on the exercise for topics such as sociology of gender, social inequality, research methods, and introduction to sociology. Addresses purchasing comic books for the course.[/wpex]
  • Harrison, S. L. (1998). Cartoons as a teaching tool in journalism history. Journalism and Mass Communication  Educator, 53(1), 95-101.
  • 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.  [LINK FULL TEXT]
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Comic books employ a complex interplay of text and images that gives them the potential to effectively convey concepts and motivate student engagement. This makes comics an appealing option for educators trying to improve science literacy about pressing societal issues involving science and technology. Here, we report results from the first systematic assessment of how a science comic book can affect student learning and attitudes about biology. We used pre- and postinstruction instruments to measure students’ attitudes about biology, attitudes about comics, and content knowledge about evolution before and after using the science comic book Optical Allusions in their classes. On the preinstruction instrument, nonmajors reported the lowest scores on the content test and attitude surveys relative to the other groups. However, on the postinstruction instrument, nonmajors’ content scores and attitudes showed a statistically significant improvement after using the comic book, particularly among those with lower content knowledge at the start of the semester. The improvement in attitudes about biology was correlated to attitudes about comics, suggesting that the comic may have played a role in engaging and shaping student attitudes in a positive way.[/wpex]
  • Kakalios, J. (2002, October). Adding Pow! to your physics class with comic-book lessons. Curriculum Review, 14-15.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Presents question and answer advisory related to comic-book physics. Principles of physics; Introduction of multicultural element of physics; Accounts on high school physics classroom.[/wpex]
  • Sturm, James. (2002, April 5). Comics in the classroom. The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. B14-5.
  • Yang, G. Comics in Education.
  • Yang, G. (2008) Graphic Novels in the Classroom. Language Arts 85 (3), 185-192. [FULL TEXT PDF]


  • Afrilyasanti, R., & Basthomi, Y. (2011). Adapting Comics and Cartoons to Develop 21st Century Learners. [Article]. Language in India, 11(11), 552-568.
  • Bakis, M. (2012). The graphic novel classroom: Powerful teaching and learning with images. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Brocka, B. (1979). Comic books: In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve changed. Media and Methods, 15 (9),30-32.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Abstract: Discusses the classroom use of comic books as a means of introducing students to plot, theme, and characterization.[/wpex]
  • Dorrell, L., Curtis, D., & Rampal, K. (1995). Book worms without books? Students reading comic books in the school house. Journal of Popular Culture, 29, 223-234.
  • Gruenberg, S. (1944). The Comics as a Social Force. Journal of Educational Sociology, 18, 204-213.
  • Hutchinson, K. (1949) An experiment in the use of comics as instructional material. Journal of Educational Sociology, 23, 236-245.
  • Kakalios, J. (2009). The Physics of Superheroes. New York: NY. Gotham.
  • McCloud, S. (1993). Understanding comics: The invisible art. Northampton, MA: Kitchen Sink Press.
  • Morrison, T., Bryan, G., & Chilcoat, G. (2002). Using student-generated comic books in the classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45, 758-767.
    • [wpex more=”Show Abstract” less=”Hide Abstract”]Discusses the use of comic-book design in helping middle school students develop their writing, comprehension and research skills in a cross-curricular activity. History of comic books; Advantages of using comic-book design in the classroom; Details on the construction of a comic book.[/wpex]
  • 張重金(2007)。奇幻漫畫之人物造型藝術與創作表現 / Molds of figures and creative Expression in the Fantastic comics (碩士論文) [DATABASE LINK]
  • 黃獻慶(2006)。連載漫畫翻譯策略之研究 / A Study of the Strategies of Translating Comic Strips (碩士論文)。[DATABASE LINK]


Related Journals

Image & Narrative

  • [wpex more=”Show Description” less=”Hide Description”]”Image [&] Narrative is a peer-reviewed e-journal on visual narratology and word and image studies in the broadest sense of the term. It does not focus on a narrowly defined corpus or theoretical framework, but questions the mutual shaping of literary and visual cultures. Beside tackling theoretical issues, it is a platform for reviews of real life examples. Each issue features three parts: 1) a thematic cluster, guest-edited by specialized scholars in the field; 2) a selection of various articles; 3) reviews of recent publications. Image [&] Narrative is a bilingual journal, which publishes contributions in either English or French, and which fosters cross-cultural and interdisciplinary dialogue between linguistic and scientific traditions.” (from: Image & Narrative)[/wpex]


  • [wpex more=”Show Description” less=”Hide Description”]”ImageTexT is a peer-reviewed, open access journal dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of comics and related media.  They are published by the English Department at the University of Florida with support from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Their content is available free of charge, and regular issues of ImageTexT will be published three times per year.” (from ImageTexT)[/wpex]

The Comics Journal (TCJ)


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