Graphic Novels in the Math/Science Classroom

There are a surprising number of graphic novels about math and science. These fall into roughly two categories: biographies of famous people from these fields or how-to guides. These biographies would be good additions to any science or math curriculum to help students understand the people behind the theories. Other graphic novels explain various math and science concepts. These graphic novels help students explore complex, confusing subjects. Assigning these while introducing new topics may provide students a new way to think about those topics, and would be particularly helpful for visual learners.

Reading List
Doxiadis, Apostolos and Christos H. Papadimitriou. Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth. Illus. Alecos Papadatos and Anni Di Donna. Bloomsbury, 2009. Publishers Weekly Starred Review.

*Gonick, Larry and Art Huffman. The Cartoon Guide to Physics. HarperCollins, 1990. Ages 12+

*Gonick, Larry and Woollcott Smith. The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. HarperCollins, 1993. Ages 12+

Hosler, Jay. Clan Apis. Active Synapse, 2000. Ages 9-12.

*Hosler, Jay. The Sandwalk Adventures: An Adventure in Evolution Told in 5 Chapters. Active Synapse, 2003. Ages 9-12.

*Ottaviani, Jim, et al. Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists. G.T. Labs, 2009.

Ottaviani, Jim and Leland Purvis, with others. Suspended in Language: Niels Bohr’s Life, Discoveries and the Century He Shaped. G.T. Labs, 2004.

*Ottaviani, Jim. Two-Fisted Science. G.T. Labs, 2001. Ages 12+

*Schultz, Mark, Zander Cannon, and Kevin Cannon. The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA. Hill & Want, 2008. ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2009.

Graphic Novels in the Art/Film Classroom

Because the meaning of comics lies in the pairing of text and images, they are particularly good additions to art classes. The art in graphic novels is often unusual and unique. A fun art assignment would be to show students many different graphic novels, from the complex (like What It Is or The Sandman: Dream Hunters) all the way to Stick Figure Hamlet. This would demonstrate the range of styles art can take. Students could then design their own graphic novel based on any one of those styles. There are also many non-fiction books about the development of the comic medium, which students could read and use to decide the methods of art and style they like the best.

Many graphic novels have been turned into excellent films; in a film or English classroom students could compare the film version of graphic novels to the graphic novel itself, providing more critical analysis of texts and their interpretations.

Reading List
*McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. HarperCollins, 1999.

Torres, J. Days Like This. Illus. by Scott Chantler. Oni Press, 2003.

VanLene, Fred and Ryan Dunlavey. Action Philosophers: Giant Sized Thing, Vol. 1. Evil Twin Comics, 2006. Non-Fiction. Philosophy. ALA 2007.

Graphic Novels that have been turned into Movies
300. Frank Miller. Dark Horse Comics, 1999.

Kick-Ass. Mark Millar. Illus. by John Romita Jr. Marvel, 2010.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1. Alan Moore. Illus. by Kevin O’Neill. America’s Best Comics, 2002.

Persepolis. Marjane Satrapi. Pantheon, 2003.

Watchmen. Alan Moore. Illus. by Dave Gibbons. DC Comics, 2008.

V for Vendetta. Alan Moore. Illus. by David Lloyd. Vertigo, 2008.