Superman Fan & Collectors Convention of Hawaii

Comics in the Classroom

Interview by Scott Shinsato

In our December 2005 issue, in an article entitled "Heroes and Role Models", writer Scott Shinsato told you about an Australian pre-school that had banned all superhero merchandise. This time we offer quite a refreshingly different story.

An educator in New Brunswick Canada named Scott Tingley has started a website called Comics in the Classroom which supports the use of comics as a learning tool.

Occasional Orb's Scott Shinsato recently interviewed Mr. Tingley about his comicbook interest and motivation for creating this program.


Were you a fan of comics growing up and if so, what were a few of your favorites.

I was a big fan growing up. I started with Archie and Richie Rich type comics, but my tastes changed when I was given a stack of my cousin’s Sgt. Rock comics. Early on my favorite superhero comic was the Legion of Super-Heroes. The first Composite Superman story is still one of my favorite stories. It was great because it had all of the powers of the Legion going against Superman and Batman. Later on the Grant Morrison Animal Man and Doom Patrol were the books that showed me that comics could be more than just fun stories.

What level of education do you work with?

I have taught everything from kindergarten to grade eight, but right now I am teaching grade one.

In what ways do you incorporate comics and learning? I always found a train going from point A to point B to be a little boring. Now if they had replaced the train with something I was more familiar/excited about (i.e. Superman), I would have been an "A+" student! LOL

I use comics a lot to inspire writing. I take images from appropriate comics (like: Lions, Tigers and Bears; Herobear and the Kid; Franklin Richards; Bone) and discuss with the students what they think is going on and then I have them write a story or we write one together. Sometimes I will give them part of a story and we will continue it, other times I will only show them a single image. The kids love it because they know when they are done I will be sending it off to the comic creators themselves. That really inspires some great work. We have sent ten or so out (some were to traditional children’s literature authors/illustrators), and all but one have sent something back to the kids. We have the coolest Reading Corner wall.

Do you feel it (incorporating comics into education) influences the children to want to learn more?

Anything that gets them as fired up as the project I just described has to be worth something. I have kids that write stories in their free time about the characters we have written about in class. I have one girl that has written three stories featuring one of the mice from Mouse Guard and another that just brought me in a story she wrote over the Easter break inspired by Herobear. I think incorporating comics into education has worked pretty well so far.

What inspired the site and concept?

A few things:

1. Last Free Comic Book Day I picked up Top Shelf’s OWLY. I loved it so much that I laminated the whole thing and put it in my classroom. I then wrote to Andy Runton, the book’s creator, sheepishly asking if he would send a letter back to my class if we sent him some Owly stories, and he enthusiastically agreed.

2. I went around to the comic shops in my town asking for donations of age appropriate back issue comics or damaged trades to promote literacy in my school. Two of the stores donated over 500$ in nice-very slightly damaged trades. It was great.

3. I was going to write an all ages column for a friend’s new site, and he suggested that I start my own instead.

All of these things came together to give me the push to do it.

Seeing as this is a Superman site, I have to ask...are you excited about seeing the movie this summer?

I am excited. I find it really interesting how they are inserting it into the Christopher Reeve series. It is sort of Superman 2.5 isn’t it?

How has the response to your site been and how would you say the impact on education has been so far?

The response has been great. Guys like Mike Bullock, John Taddeo, and Rick Olney have helped get my site’s name out there. I have gotten some supportive emails from teachers, which is really nice. I’m not sure that I have had much of an “impact” yet, but I only started in late October, so who knows?


Thank you Mr. Tingley for giving comics the credit they deserve and for understanding the importance of its use in education. For these reasons, we at Occasional Orb honor you with our "Double O" Award for excellence. We hope your site prospers and helps to motivate others to teach and perhaps learn on a different level.

Please visit the Comics in the Classroom website at:

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