Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio Teaching Guide

Publisher and Nonprofit Team with My Friend Dahmer Creator for 50th Kent State Shooting Anniversary Graphic Novel Teaching Guide

  • In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the massacre at Kent State, ABRAMS COMICARTS has released Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, a new graphic novel by award-winning author Derf Backderf (My Friend Dahmer and Trashed)
  • The graphic novel’s publication comes as the country is once again rocked by protests.
  • ABRAMS COMICARTS has teamed with the Denver-based nonprofit Pop Culture Classroom to create a free teaching guide for high school and college educators.

(Denver, September 15, 2020) — Today the Denver-based education nonprofit Pop Culture Classroom released a timely new teaching guide for ABRAMS COMICARTS’ new graphic novel, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by award-winning author Derf Backderf (My Friend Dahmer and Trashed).

“This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of when the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four unarmed college students during campus protests at Kent State University. As our communities are once again facing conflicts between protestors and law enforcement, this book is a timely and powerful reminder of the perils that prejudice and repression bring, ” said Pop Culture Classroom Education Director and Interim Executive Director, Adam Kullberg, in a prepared statement.

Pop Culture Classroom’s free online teaching guide can be downloaded here.

We knew the 50th anniversary of Kent State was a significant milestone to commemorate,” added Charles Kochman, editorial director of ABRAMS COMICARTS and editor of the graphic novel. “But we had no idea just how relevant the story would be—and the resonance it would have—given the events that are unfolding in our country today. We are proud to partner with Pop Culture Classroom to help readers understand our country’s history, with the hope that we can prevent more tragedies from happening to those who exercise their First Amendment right to protest peacefully.”

Backderf’s graphic novel is an extensively researched telling of the events leading up to the killing of four Kent State students on campus by members of the National Guard on May 4, 1970. Published September 8, Kent State has already garnered significant critical acclaim:

★ “An incendiary corrective to the myths and misconceptions surrounding these events and a memorial to the lives lost or forever altered that should be required reading for all Americans.” — Library Journal – STARRED review

★ “[Backderf’s] expertly crafted chronicle of this defining moment in U.S. history serves as a deeply moving elegy for the victims. Readers may also draw from it sobering parallels to the deep divisions of contemporary times, again dangerously rife with media noise and misinformation muddying the waters.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“One of the masterpieces of the medium . . . a work of devastating emotional impact.”  — Forbes

“Deeply researched and gut-wrenching.” — The New Yorker

“History is alive, and we want it to be accessible to students,” continued Kullberg. “Our Kent State teaching guide is a helpful resource for any educator looking to use this book to help high school or college students meaningfully explore history and current events.”

Pop Culture Classroom’s teaching guide includes an overview of the themes and characters in Backderf’s new graphic novel, pre-reading ideas, discussion questions, project ideas, media pairings, and relevant Common Core standards.


Media Contacts:
Christopher Burley, Pop Culture Classroom, c.burley[at], 202-427-1175
Maya Bradford, ABRAMS COMICARTS, mbradford[at], 212-229-7188



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