Date of this Version
Journal of STEM Outreach, Vol. 4, Issue 2, July 2021
In spring 2020 our team received funding from the Rapid Response Research program of the National Science Foundation to develop comics that would help youth understand the COVID-19 pandemic. Our project built on a decade of expertise creating comics about the biology of viruses. In collaboration with virologists and artists, we developed three comic stories about COVID-19 during the pandemic and posted them on-line during the last half of 2020. The fictional narratives address fundamental issues in biology, virology, and network science, in order to help readers understand the complexities of living through a viral pandemic. The stories focus on three themes: the biology and social context of the COVID-19 virus; the relationship of wild animals, particularly bats, to the pandemic; and the impact of the pandemic on Tribal communities. We describe the challenges of comic development during the pandemic and the feedback from youth on whether the comics were appealing, interesting, and understandable. The stories were posted on worldofviruses.unl.edu and are published by the University of Nebraska Press as the book, C’RONA Pandemic Comics, with essays for youth about the virus and the pandemic.