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K. O’Neill’s Aquicorn Cove teaches readers about the perils of coral bleaching.

Drought. Extreme weather. Pollution. Wildfires. Increasingly, our lives have been disrupted by troubling environmental issues, and these problems will only intensify in the coming decades as climate change continues to escalate unabated. As a result, environmental disasters will play a defining role in the lives of many of today’s children’s and teenagers. These crises will particularly impact vulnerable individuals from communities of color, Indigenous communities, poor communities, and other marginalized groups. In response to these developing and anticipated environmental injustices, many creators have produced environmental comics, graphic novels, and zines. Blending images and texts, these comics seek to educate young people about frightening and urgent environmental issues. Additionally, many environmental comics empower youth to engage critically and politically with these challenges by depicting young protagonists who engage in activism and by suggesting ways that readers can help tackle environmental issues in their own communities.

The Environmental Comics Database catalogs over seventy environmental children’s and young adult comics, graphic novels, and zines that address a variety of environmental issues, ranging from well-publicized crises like climate change to lesser known issues like algal blooming. These texts demonstrate how comics can serve as powerful pedagogical tools that teach young people about climate change and other environmental issues. However, environmental comics can also perpetuate systemic issues of representations of age, gender, sexuality, social class, and race, leading to two important questions: Who gets to save the world in an environmental comic, and who gets left out of these narratives? To address these questions, this website includes data visualizations that analyze agency and representation in children’s environmental comics. Click here to view the data visualizations.

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