Posted by & filed under Comics in the library, Scholarship.

Shelves of graphic novels on the 3rd floor of UNT's Willis Library


For those doing research at the UNT Libraries, there are several ways to access all of our Comics Studies materials.  Some of these, like our electronic databases, ebooks, and e-journals, are restricted to UNT students, faculty, and staff.  Others, like our physical collections, digital libraries, and online guides, can be used by anyone. And you can always consult with one of our subject specialist librarians to help with all your research questions. Read more

Posted by & filed under Comics in the library.

Earth and the Whobuddies

Today is Earth Day, and in keeping with that theme we present this story about a team of six cartoon owl superheroes—the Whobuddies—whose job is to save the Earth from environmental disasters and encourage humans to become heroes themselves by conserving and protecting our precious natural resources.

Who Are the Whobuddies?

Each Whobuddy is named after the particular genus its owl species belongs to, and each has a special superpower, when put together, represent all the natural resources that contribute to a healthy environment. Here are their descriptions according to the NRCS Whobuddies Adventures webpage:

 is a strong, powerful owl who really “digs” the soil. His main emphasis is to teach how soil conservation practices help in preventing soil erosion. Bubo relies on his awesome strength and power to move anything in his way. He is as powerful as a bulldozer and he doesn’t like it when soil is treated like dirt!


Otus really knows how to have fun in the water. He also deeply appreciates clean water. He likes to teach others how to conserve this precious resource. Otus can remarkably turn himself into a liquid form which has its advantages. He can maneuver himself in and around any obstacle.

Tyto can be a little flighty at times, but he is all business when it comes to air quality. He gives the importance of clean air his fullest attention. Not only can Tyto cause himself to float, but he has the incredible ability to cause other objects to become lighter than air, too.


Strix is a funloving and playful owl whose heart goes out to all animals. He teaches the importance of having an abundance of wildlife habitat. Strix has the ability to communicate with all animals, and the animals all love his childlike play. They would do anything for their dear friend.


Ninox specializes in science. He enjoys using his skills and intelligence in showing others how we all depend on plants every day. Ninox has a special talent with the elements of science. His customized formulas can animate any plant species.


Asio is a real dynamo who gets things done. She is very energetic in teaching others about the necessity of energy conservation and efficiency. Asio is lightening fast. Her super quickness is a huge benefit in helping her complete any difficult task.

Creators of the Whobuddies

Brad Harrison, Author

Brad Harrison

The Whobuddies were the brainchild of Brad Harrison, who for 36 years worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a district conservationist. NRCS is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers as well as to city planners, watershed groups, state and local governments, and civic organizations, helping all of them protect their soil, water, and other natural resources.

Harrison was a tireless and enthusiastic educator who was constantly dreaming up new ideas for promoting conservation. He coined the NRCS slogan “Helping People Help the Land,” launched the 1  Percent Challenge, which encourages local farmers to work towards a 1 percent increase in soil organic matter through soil health practices, and he even developed a rap song and music video to promote healthy soil called “Don’t Treat It Like Dirt.” 

After coming up with the idea for a team of environmentally conscious cartoon superheroes, Harrison shopped his concept around to several movie companies and animation studios, but found no one interested in taking on the project. Perhaps some of them found the premise a little too close for comfort to Captain Planet and the Planeteers, a very popular animated television series that had been broadcast in the early to mid 1990s. In any case, when the animated cartoon idea did not work out, Harrison found an illustrator who was hired by NRCS to give visual form to his characters and create a series of comic books around them. 

Rodgon, Illustrator


The comic books were drawn by a San Diego-based artist originally from Mexico City who goes by the name of Rodgon (short for Rodrigo Gonzalez).

Over the years, Rodgon has worked in comics, animation, and apparel, and as a freelance illustrator. He is also a teacher who has created tutorials for print publication as well as an extensive series of video tutorials on his own Rodgon the Artist YouTube channel. Some artists he has been inspired by are Frank Cho, Chris Sanders, and Scott Campbell, as well as Dave Guertin and Greg Baldwin of CreatureBox.   

Whobuddy Adventures

Together they created a series of three comics that each tell a story about the Whobuddies and the environmental problems they solve. The stories are very simple, but don’t shy away from specialized terminology that some teachers or parents might worry is over the heads of the children. The illustrations depict colorful, eye-catching fantasies, but also incorporate accurately drawn technical diagrams to clarify scientific concepts. 

At the end of each volume are puzzles and games that test and reinforce knowledge of the concepts and vocabulary introduced in the story, and each issue concludes with an exhortation to “Be a Conservation Hero” by getting involved in protecting the environment and by sharing knowledge of conservation resources. 

Mystery of the Sick Stream

1. Mystery of the Sick Stream: In this story, the Whobuddies help Connor and his friends solve the mystery of why the animals in a nearby stream are becoming sick and why the water is so polluted.

The Great Soil Discovery

2. The Great Soil Discovery: This story features Bubo, the Whobuddy dedicated to soil conservation, who teaches Connor and his friends how to improve soil health and reduce erosion, which in turn helps the plants, water, air, and energy.

3. Top Secret Field Trip: As a reward for all their hard work, Connor and his friends are invited on a special field trip to the Whobuddies’ secret headquarters, where they watch the strigine superheros working in their laboratory and even help them solve a natural resource emergency.

Whobuddies Resources

In addition to the comic books, NRCS has made available a large set of other teaching tools, including discussion question, activity sheets, a poster, a set of trading cards, and a YouTube video adaptation of each story. The videos are not nearly as slick as the professional productions the author had in mind originally. 

Brad Harrison reading to a class

The Legacy of Brad Harrison

Sadly, before he could create any more installments in the series of Whobuddy Adventures, Brad Harrison passed away from colon cancer at the age of 58. 

The NRCS produced one more Whobuddies comic, with Brad’s characters and Rodgon’s illustrations, but authorship of the text was—like most government documents—attributed to the agency as a whole rather than to any personal author. In a moving tribute, Brad Harrison was written into the story and joined his beloved Whobuddies to became a character in his own comic book series. 

Plight of the Pollinators

4. The Plight of the Pollinators: In a story possibly inspired by Perilous Plight of the Pollinator—another NRCS document—Zoe the bee discovers a building where her food sources, such as flowers and fruit trees, used to be. She contacts the Whobuddies to get help for herself and her pollinator friends—bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Ninox provides some “special plant specimens” and calls Ralph the janitor and his friends to help. Ralph knows of a good spot in the schoolyard for a pollinator garden and calls “Mr. Brad,” Connor, and the other kids to help plant it. Ninox and Brad explain the crucial role that pollinators play in the life cycle of trees and flowers, and the complementary role those plants play in providing food for the pollinators. All of the Whobuddies play their distinct roles in helping Brad and the kids create a garden that will provide plenty of pollen and nectar for the pollinators, help build healthy soil, protect the school yard from erosion, and brighten everyone’s day with their beautiful blooms.

A dedication inside the front cover reads, “Dedicated to our friend, Brad Harrison. 1959–2017”

We hope this story inspires you to make the most of Earth Day and every day to be a conservation hero!

Be a Conservation Hero


You can learn more about natural resources conservation at

To learn more about these and other government comics, contact the Eagle Commons Library at

Article by Bobby Griffith.




Posted by & filed under Comics Events, Comics in the library, Comics Reading Group.

Cover of My Brother's Husband, volume one, showing two men and a young Japanese girl standing between them.

Despite the world falling into chaos, a pandemic raging, social movements on the march, an election swirling, and all the hectic busy-ness of a most unusual semester, the Comics Studies community at UNT managed to squeeze in some welcome comics-related activities that kept us all somewhat grounded, connected, and nourished by our shared love of graphic narrative. Read more

Posted by & filed under Diversity, Interviews.

Logo of UNT Pod site, features white letters on green background, with the "O" in Pod containing an old-fashioned radio microphone

A member of our Comics Studies @UNT community, Dr. Joanna Davis-McElligatt, recently did a podcast for UNT Pod about diversity & inclusion in comics. She talks about the importance of recent efforts by comics creators to bring more diverse perspectives, characters, and stories into the mainstream comics industry, popular culture, and the classroom. See more details and listen to the complete podcast below. Read more

Posted by & filed under Comics Events.

Poster for Flyover Comics Symposium 2020


Comics Studies@UNT is excited to announce that we are partnering with comics studies groups at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Michigan State University, and with Digital Frontiers, to host the first virtual Flyover Comics Symposium, September 24-25, 2020.

This event was designed to fill the gap left by the cancellation of several comics studies conferences this year due to COVID-19. Papers already accepted to one of those conferences will be automatically accepted for the symposium.

New proposals for 20-minute papers, 60-minute panels, or conference posters will also be considered (submission deadline: August 2). 

All are welcome to attend the event via Zoom, and registration is “Pay What You Will”, starting June 15, 2020. 

You’ll have the opportunity to learn about a wide range of comics scholarship, creative projects, and comics-related pedagogy during each session, and participate in Q & A sessions with the presenters.  

More details are available at the link above. Hope to see some of you there!


Posted by & filed under Comics in the library, Comics Reading Group.

Cover image of BTTM FDRS (bottom feeders) by Ezra Clayton Daniels


At our recent Comics Studies Reading Group virtual meeting, we asked the question, “What comics are getting you through the pandemic and why?”. Some of the group’s responses are shared below, and reflect a range of genres and tastes, but more interestingly, a range of different needs and reasons for looking to comics during this time.

We’d love to hear from some of you in the comments about what you’re reading these days and why it’s important to you, especially now. Whether its for escapism, contemplation, comfort, provocation, or intellectual gratification, tell us how comics or graphic novels might be meaningful or valuable for you in the time of COVID. Read more

Posted by & filed under Comics Reading Group, Scholarship.

Cover of Monstrous Women in Comics Edited by Samantha Langsdale & Elizabeth Rae Coody

This Fall has been a busy one for many of our Comics Studies Reading Group members, who have been reading, teaching, reviewing, and writing about comics and graphic novels, among other things. So I thought this would be a great time to share some of the interesting work they’re doing or plan to do in the coming year.  This group includes folks at UNT and TCU who have been meeting together or sharing ideas and events over the last year or so.  They come from a range of disciplines and professional roles, so it’s especially valuable to see how comics intersect with all of these different perspectives and approaches to reading, writing, and thinking about the issues they study. If you’re interested in joining the reading group email list, or have updates of your own to share, contact Read more

Posted by & filed under Comics in the library.


The US federal government has been producing comics directly or indirectly ever since 1918, when the short-lived Bureau of Cartoons was used to encourage American cartoonists to create propaganda during the First World War. Still, few people seem to be aware of this unique and fascinating resource.

Government comics were the topic of a poster I presented at the 2019 Federal Depository Library Conference in Arlington, Virginia on October 22 of this year. It turned out that not only are nearly all non-document librarians unaware that government comics exist, even many document librarians have either never heard of government comics, or are unaware of just how many government comics there are in their collections.

Government comics are truly a hidden collection in most libraries, and my goal in creating this poster was to raise awareness of government comics and to suggest methods for a library to enhance its local collection and encourage patrons to use them.

Government Comics Poster Presentation

Click poster to see full size.

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Posted by & filed under Comics Reading Group.

Cover image of Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner

After an interval this summer and a couple of postponements due to scheduling conflicts, the Comics Studies Reading Group started back up in November with a discussion of Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner.Our conversation was pretty wide-ranging, but touched on issues of teenage sexuality, sexual abuse, diaries & confessional writing, the interplay between text and image, memory and authorial voice, teaching difficult subject matter, and creating comics.  

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