Archive for The Classroom

How to Get Free (or Almost Free) Comics for Your Classroom

Last Updated: 12/20/17

Eager to get started using comics and graphic novels to help your students improve reading skills, increase exposure to STEM topics, or just generally spark a love of learning across a wider range of learners?

If you’re like many of the educators we often talk with, the biggest challenge may be how to afford those comics in the first place.

There’s good news. There are a growing number of free sources of comics online and, with a little creativity, you may be able to get free (or very low cost) printed books as well.

Here’s a few of our favorite ways of getting comics for your classroom at no (or very little) cost. We’ll be updating and adding to this list moving forward, so be sure to check back often to see what’s changed.

IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTION: We’d like to give a huge thank you to the School Library Journal (SLJ) for providing the descriptions for some of these comics via their recent blog HERE. Any descriptions that originated on the SLJ blog/website are marked with “SLJ:”

 

Free Comics Online (Updated Regularly)

Pop Culture Classroom’s Colorful History
Free 2-page comic celebrating major events in Colorado history, plus a free Teachers Guide, Script and Rough Sketches.
http://popcultureclassroom.org/education/colorful-history/

Camp Weedonwantcha
Super-funny and irreverent webcomic a-la Lord of The Flies meets Weird Supernatural summer camp stuff. 
http://campcomic.com/

Hiveworks
A creator owned and free-to-read publisher of a variety of web comics.
https://hiveworkscomics.com/

Xkcd
A webcomic of romance, with sarcasm, math, and language. NOTE: Lots of these are not appropriate for kids.
https://xkcd.com/

The Creepy Casefiles
SLJ: Charles Thompson’s parents have uprooted him from his comfy home and moved to a dilapidated hotel in a strange city, where there’s a troll in his closet.
http://www.drewweing.com/

Princess, Princess
SLJ: A 46-page story about a princess in a tower who is rescued by…another princess. There’s a low-key romance and a strong message about self-confidence in this charming fairy tale.
http://strangelykatie.com/

Sheldon
SLJ: The humor is goofy, topical, and perceptive in this gag-a-day comic with a loose cast of characters: Sheldon, a 10-year-old billionaire, his friends Emily and Dante, his grandfather, a talking duck, a dog, and a lizard.
http://www.sheldoncomics.com/

Breaking Cat News
SLJ: A trio of cats report breathlessly, CNN-style, on the doings of the people in their house in this hilarious gag-a-day comic. Andrews McMeel will publish a version this year.
http://www.breakingcatnews.com/

Gunnerkrigg Court
SLJ: This long-running comic follows the supernatural adventures of Antimony Carver and her friend Kat Donlan at a most peculiar boarding school.
http://gunnerkrigg.com/archives/

As the Crow Flies
SLJ: Charlie is sure she won’t fit in at Three Peaks Camp, a Christian backpacking camp for teen girls. She’s black, she’s queer—and she’s in for a few surprises.
http://www.melaniegillman.com/

M.F.K.
SLJ: A fantasy about a girl traveling through the desert to scatter her mother’s ashes who encounters a cast of characters with their own agendas. Winner of the 2015 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity.
http://www.mfkcomic.com/

Wonderlust
SLJ: Launched in January, this is a slice-of-life story about a schoolgirl who “learns the true meaning of Halloween.”
http://www.wonderlustcomic.com/

Hark! A Vagrant
SLJ: Kate Beaton’s wry gags riff on history, literature, and pop culture, taking on everything from Wuthering Heights to Joan of Arc. The print collection Step Aside Pops! made the 2016 YALSA list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
http://www.harkavagrant.com/

Homestuck
SLJ: Homestuck, with a lot of game-ish elements, starts with one character and builds into a complicated plot about kids playing a video game to save the world. More than 7,000 pages, it’s epic, with a huge fan base.
http://mspaintadventures.com/

You Say Latino (One-Pager)
SLJ: The author, who is half Mexican, explains the difference between “Latino” and “Hispanic.”
https://www.vox.com/2015/8/19/9173457/hispanic-latino-comic

Threads. The Calais Cartoon (One-Pager)
SLJ: Evans recounts her experiences as a volunteer at the refugee camp in Calais, France.
http://www.cartoonkate.co.uk/threads-the-calais-cartoon/

 

(Almost) Free Ways to Get Printed Books

Scholastic Book Clubs Points

Scholastic has been offering a fantastic program for many years that awards points to teachers when their students purchase books from the club.

The more books (including comics and graphic novels) your students buy from the program, the more points you earn and can spend on purchasing more comics.

Plus, Scholastic Book Club is one of the least expensive places you can buy comics that are appropriate for kids. They will often be priced at wholesale or below, and other comic publishers sell through the program.

Some titles are even sold below cost, acting as primarily an advertisement (aka “loss leader) to promote he publishers’ most recent and/or most popular titles.

Partner with Your Local Comic Book Shop

Take a trip to the comic book shop nearest your school and bring your teacher ID. Let the shop owner or manager know you’re a teacher with a very limited budget (but are eager to get comics into your classroom) and see if they can help you out with some free of very low-cost books.

To sweeten the deal for the shop owner, ask them if they have any stickers for their shop that you could place on each of the comics, encouraging your students — and anyone they share the comics with — to go in and buy comics at the shop when they can.

This is just one example of creating a “win-win” for you and the shop, and most owners are always looking for new and creative ways to get new customers.

Here’s a few other things to ask or discuss while you’re there:

  • Ask to look at their discount bins. It may take time to flip through all of them, but it’s often worth it since you can find great comics heavily discounted — sometimes for as low as a dollar each.
  • Ask if they are willing to sell educational copies of comics at cost or a specially discounted rate.
  • Consistently remind them that you’re open promoting their store via popups, posters, or whatever promotional materials they can provide at your school, in return for them donating comics on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
  • And, last but certainly not least…

Free Comic Book Day

Each year, on the first Saturday in May, comic book shops host Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). On that day, publishers provide comic shops with a wide range of free comics as a way to attract new readers.

The next one happens on May 5, 2018. Before then, go into your local shop and ask if they would be willing to set aside any remaining grade-level appropriate books after FCBD is over, for you to use in your classroom collections. Let them know you’ll share any extras/duplicates with your colleagues.

 

For Next Time

We hope this post has been helpful! Please leave feedback or suggestions for future posts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or by sending email to education@popcultureclassroom.org.

In our next post, we’ll be focusing on ways parents can use comics to increase their child’s reading skills.

See you there.

Congratulations to the 2017 Con4aCause Sweepstakes Winners!

Because of your support of Denver Comic Con, we at Pop Culture Classroom are able to impact, inspire and educate children through our year-round educational programs and events. To thank you, our 2017 #Con4aCause sweepstakes gave those who entered a chance to WIN TWO ,THREE-DAY PASSES TO DCC FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS!

We were honored to receive thousands of entries across the Con4aCause website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but alas we could only pick three lucky winners. Please watch Illya’s latest video below, congratulating the Grand Prize winners and giving a HUGE thank you to everyone who submitted entries this year – you are all superheroes!

We plan to be back with a new sweepstakes in 2018, so please keep a close eye on the Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom social channels as we approach next year’s con! 


THE 2017 CON4ACAUSE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

Hannah G. (Instagram)

Con4aCause Winner - Hannah G.

Toby H. (Facebook)

Con4aCause Winners - Tony H

Annaliese R. (Twitter)

Con4aCause Winnner - Annaliese R.

 

 


Introducing #Con4aCause – Thank You For Being Awesome

Surprise! You’re a Superhero!

Thanks to your support of Denver Comic Con, we are able to impact, inspire and educate children through our year-round educational programs and events. To thank you, we’re offering you a chance to WIN FREE DCC PASSES FOR FIVE YEARS!

Watch the video below to learn all about it, then visit www.con4acause.com and enter to win! And remember, you’re also entered each time you include #Con4aCause in a social post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!


Full Lineup of Education Panels at DCC’17 Available!

Denver Comic Con 2017 is just around the corner! This year we have over 250 hours of education-based panels focusing on everything from teaching with cosplay to using board games in your classroom to engaging students with independent films, and so much more! These panels are all part of our overall nonprofit educational mission: to use pop culture to educate, inspire and engage students and teachers everywhere! 

To help you keep track of these exciting opportunities, we have compiled a full list of these education panels at the Con at the link below. 

www.popcultureclassroom.org/dcc/education

But wait, there’s more! At this link, and to further help you plan your DCC weekend, we have also created a list of interest tracks, which divide the education panels into seven categories:

  • Art, Diversity/Gender Issues
  • Film/Television
  • Gaming/Technology, Science
  • Teaching/Pedagogy
  • Writing/Literature

We have also included a Panel Tracking sheet, which is designed to help you easily keep track of all the educational panels you attended in a simple, organized way.

For easy access to these panels leading up to and during the event, we also encourage you to download the all-new Pop Culture Classroom app. You can use this to create a schedule of panels to attend and receive advance reminders about events and activities, as well as stay updated on any scheduling changes that may occur, as all panel times and locations are subject to change.

Finally, we offer ALL educators the chance to receive a certificate for panel hours attended at DCC. All you need to do is send a scanned version of your completed Panel Tracking Sheet into education@popcultureclassroom.org by July 7th, 2017. We will send you a certificate that you can provide to your schools and/or program for recertification/professional development hours.

Our unique approach to supporting educators and innovating education is part of what makes Denver Comic Con special each year. We can’t wait to celebrate another stellar year with you, and we hope these panels


Costume Creation and Denver Comic Con Inspiring Youth

Layne calls the Gold Crown Clubhouse home. Now 18, he’s been going since 5th or 6th grade, and despite the many personal challenges he has had to overcome in his life he always finds time to drop by. A huge fan of action movies, Layne has been hard at work building a Deadshot costume for Denver Comic Con. Clubhouse members like Layne at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center @ Gold Crown (BBTTC) in Lakewood have been hard at work every Thursday making their own cosplay costumes to get ready for Denver Comic Con.

This clubhouse is an enrichment program part of the Gold Crown Foundation, (GCF) which provides rich, interest based instruction and mentoring for hundreds of kids ages 10-18. They help underserved area youth discover their talents, strengths and hope for the future by providing creative opportunities and supportive staff in a safe and exciting environment.

Denver Comic Con and pop culture incentivize these clubhouse members. The mission of the Gold Crown Clubhouse is to learn through fun, hands on and creative ways, and what’s more fun than creating a costume based on your favorite pop culture character as a way of earning a chance to show it off at a comic con? Members are able to learn about overcoming difficulties and following through with a long term project, with the reward of a visit to Denver Comic Con the ultimate inspiration.

Youth learn best when they can express themselves independently in a variety of mediums, and the process of costume creation fits perfectly into this model. Members first go through a planning process, picking the character they want to see come to life. Then they are able to put their drawing skills to work, sketching the designs necessary for creation. They set goals, gather materials and build their pieces. Materials like foam are transformed through finishing techniques to look like metal, yarn is used to make a tail. Members learn new skills which empower and inspire. Creating a cosplay costume based on pop culture introduces members to whole new skill sets, expanding their creativity and learning organically.

Pop Culture Classroom and DCC are dedicated to inspiring a love of learning and building community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression. We are thrilled that something like comic con has become such a large motivation for these clubhouse members to stick to a project and expand their skill sets.

Cassandra Rivera, Mentor Coordinator for the Clubhouse said, “As a result of the cosplay challenge I’d say that Layne, as well as other members, are learning how to be more resilient with the projects they start. Instead of just giving up when they encounter an obstacle they’re actually motivated to push on and make their costumes the very best they can be.”

By participating every Thursday in the Comic Con Cosplay Club at the Clubhouse and finishing their costume, nine clubhouse members of the club will get to attend the con. Look out for some of these awesome handmade costumes when you’re at DCC this summer!


The 2017 PCC Kids’ Lab Welcomes Community Orgs to the Floor!

What’s the coolest place at Denver Comic Con 2017 for families? The 10,000 square foot Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Laboratory of course!

This year the PCC Kids’ Lab is back, each day bringing a full slate of fun, interactive and engaging activities for kiddos of all ages and interests to the show floor. This year’s theme is You Can Make a Difference, and we’re welcoming even more local community organizations and artists to help us inspire children to make a difference in their community.

These organizations and artists volunteer their time to be a part of the great cause of using pop culture as a tool in education, from promoting illustration in comic books to providing technology to empower kids to make their own media.

Take a look at all the awesome organizations offering fun, interactive activities and be sure to stop by and visit them at the Kids’ Lab during this year’s Con!


Community Organizations to Visit at the 2017 Kids’ Lab

DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture ClassroomRed Team Go

This is Red Team Go’s second year in the lab. They are a collective of local artists focusing on the comic book, anime and illustration and will be hanging out and providing sketches, zombie makeup, as well as contributing to some great panels. 


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture Classroom

Jackman Brothers Productions

Jackman Brothers have been bringing smiles to families’ faces since year 1 of DCC. They bring their A-game with balloon twisting, face painting and the friendliest personalities in the state of Colorado. Not only do they donate their time, but they donate their tips to Pop Culture Classroom to support out initiatives.


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture Classroom

The CoMMiES

The Colorado Modeling Militia Enjoying Sci-Fi (CoMMiES) will be back for their fourth year! They will be bringing paper make-and-take models for attendees to engineer. After you are done creating, you can take it to our local ASIFA to do some stop motion animation.


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture ClassroomColorado Symphony Orchestra

Once again, our friends at the CSO will be joining us at a table all weekend. They bring funky instruments, fun activities and professional musicians to wow attendees with musical nerdy fun.


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture ClassroomDenver Open Media

This year we would like to welcome Denver Open Media, who throughout the year works with PCC to offer educational programming for local youth. They are dedicated to putting the power of the media in the hands of the community and providing technology resources. This year, they will have a spot in the Lab to teach attendees how to be a media maker!


Don’t Miss Out on the Best Kids’ Lab Yet! 

All of these great organizations and artists plus many more will be making the Lab a fantastic part of your Comic Con weekend. We feel that being a part of the community is how we can make change, and we are thankful for the support of everyone. Stop by the Lab with your family for some nerdy and educational fun!

If you haven’t bought tickets yet visit here to be a part of the hottest event of the summer!


Announcing PCC’s 2015 Kids Comics Contest Winners!

We want to first thank everyone who submitted to PCC’s first-ever Kids Comics Contest this year! We were thrilled by the response, with comics submitted on everything from Bigfoot to climate change, and we can’t wait to continue building on the contest’s success for Denver Comic Con 2016. Yay comics!

After reading, admiring, and being inspired by the work by artists of all ages and from across the nation, we’re excited to announce our 2015 Kids Comics Contest WINNERS are:

Winner#1: Drew Arnold

Drew Arnold_Winner3_Page_1
Winner #2: Amanda Schroeder

Amanda is a sophomore in high school working towards a career in art.

AmandaSchroeder_Winner2_p.13

Winner #3: Marin Stumpf

Marin is a Broadway nerd, growing up with influences from geek culture such as Marvel, Star Wars, and much more. She spends her time watching Disney movies and drawing her favorite barricade boys.

Marin Stumpf_Winner1_p.1

Along with their artistic talents, each of these young artists showed incredible creativity and self-expression in their submissions—revealing just how powerful and diverse comics can be. We are delighted to reward their hard work and ingenuity at DCC 2015 and beyond!

In addition to a pair of 3-day passes to Denver Comic Con 2015, these 3 lucky winners will have samples of their comics prominently featured in the official DCC 2015 souvenir

program, where they’ll be admired by tens of thousands of Con attendees. Winners will also have complete versions of their work displayed on the PCC website. Plus, during the Con weekend, winners will attend a special meet-and-greet session with a professional kids comic artist.

Please join us in congratulating these talented winners, and keep an eye out for their work at DCC 2015 and on popcultureclassroom.org in the near future.