Andrea Wilson, Graduate Teaching Assistant/Student, Wichita State University

Proposal Type


  • Seeking Additional Presenters
  • Seeking General Feedback and Interest
Related Topics
  • Inclusion
  • Teaching

When most people hear about graphic novels they think of childish comic books that are only meant for light reading. They have not been seen as potential education tools. Graphic novels are becoming an important way to convey history, from the iconic Maus to recent comic books that cover historical materials. History lends itself well to the graphic novel, and by adding visual and narrative elements to history events, it helps readers feel more immersed and connected to the event or setting. A great deal of research goes into creating a truly historic graphic novel. This group will discuss the distinct methods of research and writing for a graphic novel, how it differs from other mediums, and how it can be used in education.


The goal of this proposal is to shine light on a form of historic writing that has not had much exposure. It is designed to educate other historians on what goes into the graphic novel and answer any questions about its validity as an educational work. We would appreciate feedback on the potential interest in this topic as well as any other panelists who would like to join us. We would love to add any indiviuals who have worked on graphic novels.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to pass along someone’s contact information confidentially, please get in contact directly: Andrea Wilson, [email protected]

If you have general ideas or feedback to share, please feel free to use the comments feature below.

All feedback and offers of assistance should be submitted by July 2, 2017.


  1. Heather Heckler says:


    Yes, please! I would love to hear a discussion about the graphic novel as a form of historical interpretation that can reach new and different audiences (much the way that podcasting has recently created new avenues for sharing history). Examples like Jason Lutes’s Berlin series and John Lewis’s March show the power of this medium to present history in a way that helps audiences make connections between historical events and their own lives today.

    Looking forward to attending your roundtable!

  2. Benjamin Filene says:

    This sounds really interesting. Even as you explore the richness of the medium (the amt. of research required, etc.), I’d suggest also considering how/whether the form could be accessible to low-budget museums (and student projects?), extending its reach since (as you say) it has such potential as an educational tool. I maybe wrong, but I’m guessing you’ll get more questions about “can I do it?” than about its validity.

  3. Mike Dove says:

    Excellent topic Andrea and one that should attract a fairly diverse audience. Several scholars here in Canada formed the Graphic History Collective back in 2008 and have since produced several materials that you may find useful: as you further develop your proposal and identify potential presenters. Sean Carleton at Mount Royal University has been a major advocate of using this medium to present the past:

    Our best selling graphic novel here in Canada was based on the life of the very contentious figure- Metis leader Louis Riel, by Chester Brown. You may find the author’s approach and audience reaction interesting:

    On Benjamin’s point about how one can get involved in producing historic graphic novels – I’m an avid reader of graphic novels, growing out of my childhood love of comics. I am, however, also a lousy artist, so I felt that this medium for telling stories was more of less out of my wheelhouse. How can lousy artist historians take an active role in producing graphic novels?

    Looking forward to seeing this roundtable come together!

    1. Andrea Wilson says:

      Hello Mike!

      Thank you for that information! i had no idea about the graphic novel collective in Canada. I will absolutely be looking into that.

      On the historians getting involved with this medium we will cover that a bit on the panel. However, i can tell you know that my drawing is stick figures. We have an artist who is handling that part of the novel. The historians in the group compile the research for him to draw from. This includes a lot of pictures and descriptions. It is a different kind of researching and it stretched me to think beyond normal historical research parameters. If you have any more questions now or at the conference feel free to email me to find me there.

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