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Coronavirus-themed Comics Aiming to Educate, Engage

Series of web-published comics being produced by industry veterans, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

C'rona Comix by Bob HallUniversity of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty have collaborated with illustrator and writer Bob Hall to develop “C’rona Comix,” the first in a series of five comics designed to address misconceptions about the novel coronavirus while motivating young readers to learn more about the virus and pandemic.

Published weekly and freely available at https://worldofviruses.unl.edu/covid-19, “C’rona Comix” follows a cast of anthropomorphic animals — Professor Grey, Graffiti Mouse, Cat, Bat, Reporter Fox and Skate Goat — as they come to grips with and, in some cases, literally get to know the virus.

The development team, which includes multiple members who co-created the “World of Viruses” and “Biology of Human” comics, plans to complete the five coronavirus-themed series by the end of 2020 and publish them together in a print edition by summer 2021. Upcoming series will highlight topics that span the transmission of viruses from bats to humans and the particular challenges facing Native American tribes.

Judy Diamond, a professor and curator at the University of Nebraska State Museum who is heading the project, said “C’rona Comix” and its follow-ups are being written to inform, entertain and stimulate rather than prescribe, condemn or alarm.

“We have a really deep respect for kids’ ability to learn on their own and to ask important questions,” said Diamond, whose collaborators include Liz VanWormer from the School of Natural Resources and researchers in education, sociology, the Nebraska Center for Virology and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Later this year, the team will distribute copies of the comics to roughly 10,000 middle school students in Lincoln Public Schools. By surveying student opinions of the comics, which are being funded by the National Science Foundation, the team will continue its long-running research on how best to engage students and bolster their science literacy.

“We feel like there’s a lot of misinformation that goes out, and what we’re doing is trying to create accessible information in ways that kids will be motivated to want to read, because it’s fun to read,” Diamond said. “Hopefully, that will help them become motivated to take the next step to read some articles about it, to read the news, to begin to distinguish good information from misleading information. That’s a really critical ability that we hope to instill in people.”

Press release courtesy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Communication Office. Lincoln City Libraries has partnered on this project to make these comics available on our Teen Page.