Educational Comics and School Cartoons with Jamal’s World

Jamal's World educational comic

As we all know, I’ve always been into comics and sci-fi/fantasy type stories. I’ve read that kind of stuff since I was a little kid and it really taught me a lot.

Jamal’s World was an educational comic I came up with a couple of years ago in response to an idea my mother had to try to help young black students with their math and science (two disciplines we are unfortunately trailing behind in).

She came up with the idea, and then I had to come up with a way to realize it.

Not quite a teacher

Well, as much as I love science, and as much as I love creating comics, that doesn’t exactly qualify me to *teach*. This was an area where I had virtually no experience.

Oh yeah, I loved science but I hated math, algebra, geometry, statistics and all that stuff -the young chilluns would be on their *own* with that.

Anyway I decided not to come in hard with the science, but to do something basic and fun that would hopefully spark the *desire* for young kids to go learn more about these things.

It always worked for me. Comics are what taught me to read, and usually something in a comic book would send me running for the encyclopedia.

Most of the time it would go down like this:

  • ME: “Hey man, check out this Spider-Man!”
  • FRIEND: “Dude, that could NEVER happen!”
  • ME: “Yes it could!”
  • FRIEND: “Could not!”
  • ME: “Could TOO!

…and so on, until, tired from the mental exhaustion of the intense debate, I would run to my parents for validation of my favorite comics.

Their answer was invariably: “Go check the encyclopedia.”

Man, I read through so much of those encyclopedias, and I usually forgot what I went looking for in the first place.

Oh yeah, when I did stay on track I’d usually find out I was indeed wrong, and that it would be impossible for Superman to actually pick up the Earth and fly through space with it. Oh, well :(

Creating Jamal’s World

But back to the present. I created Jamal to be someone young black boys could hopefully identify with. Someone they might want to be, and as such not feel bad about learning some basic science along the way.

The basic premise is that Jamal is a very bright kid who’s mother and father are both scientists. Jamal enjoys sneaking away into his parent respective labs and going off on adventures, where of course he learns valuable lessons.

Besides me and my mother, we brought in a couple of teachers we knew who were going to take the comic in to their classes as a mini focus group.

After I drew it up I sent it off to the teachers for review.

So here’s a look at the one and only “Jamal’s World” comic:

Jamals World-2009-educational comic school cartoon
Jamal's World Comic - Click to view larger

What could have been

My plan was to introduce a female classmate who would journey along with Jamal and help him out of tough scrapes (or even to cover up their adventures from their parents).

This way I could work in a character to hopefully give young black girls someone to identify with.

Also, I was going to try to show that Jamal’s dad worked with physics, while his mom would work with biology and the adventures from either lab would reflect that.

Of course that never happened, mostly since none of us involved in it really knew what was necessary to get these things into schools.

I was hoping for some kind of a Weekly Reader sort of a vibe, where the kids could look forward to seeing a new adventure every week.

Also, we came up with a short quiz with links to reference material to be administered directly after the kids would read the latest comic:

Jamal World Quiz-1
A short quiz we came up with to supplement the comic

Again, I’m not a professional at this sort of thing, so I’m sure it could have been tweaked in more.

So what happened?

Well all parties eventually lost interest, and I moved on to other projects that were taking more of my time.

Also, a funny thing happened along the way: We had been planning the website for the comic, obviously were going to call it, except somebody got the domain name before us.

A matter of days before us.


Very interesting. If it would have been already registered for years I wouldn’t have been suspicious, but to be registered only days before we were going to get it?

I mean, we had been going back and for the between us for about 2 months over the project, so a handful of people knew about it. I couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d been ganked by someone close to the project.

Honestly though, even though a conspiracy is nice and juicy, I was eventually forced to the more reasonable conclusion that it was just one of those unfortunate coincidences.

After all we didn’t go forward with the project anyway, so I can’t be mad at ’em..

Jamal in the future?

I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to this one. I thought it was a wonderful idea from my mother, and I was happy that I came up with Jamal’s World.

But if I did come back to it I’d change the name, and do a bit more research on the subject so I could really hit it hard out of the gate.

I’m not sure if there’s much demand for this sort of thing. I think it could help some kids, but could it help enough?

I just don’t think I’m qualified to know the answer to that unfortunately.

Anyway, to close this thing out, here’s the inked artwork for Jamal’s World.

Jamals-World-2009-Inked artwork
Jamals World comic 2009 Inked artwork
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12 thoughts on “Educational Comics and School Cartoons with Jamal’s World

  1. Okay, Jamal’s World is totally rockin’ awesome. I personally love the idea, and would have read it (if I had been able to find it.) And I’m with you; I think someone ganked your idea.

    But that’s just because the idea is so awesome!!

    We’ve been guilty of the same thing here at home; we’re embarrassingly enthusiastic gamers, and we spend DAYS researching our campaigns to make sure that they’re as authentic as possible. I mean, aside from the fact that there is no such thing as werewolves and vampires, our campaigns are so REAL!! And it’s amazing the things I learn as we get our game story ready.


    1. Hey Delena, thanks so checking this out! I wasn’t sure if I should put the suspected domain-jacking in there since it doesn’t really matter now, but it was a part of the whole deal so I felt I should include it.

      And I didn’t know you were a gamer, see the things you learn :)

      But that’s what I mean, when you go looking for a little information you usually end up getting more than you bargain for, and that can be a really good thing for kids (and adults)!

  2. Gosh, that wasn’t bad at all – i still loved reading it :)
    If it’s daily segments, why not draw up a new page and put it out on a new website every few days, then by about 250, combine all of them and get it published? Just my thoughts, awesome designs too :)

    1. Thanks, Peter!

      I appreciate the compliments, man. I don’t know if I’d go daily with it, but maybe a weekly 4-panel or something.

      The only problem is I’m kind of long winded so it takes a lot of effort for me to contain myself to 4 panels!

  3. Hi John,

    This is an interesting story and, one that we can only hope doesn’t end as it did.
    Of course, if your passion for it has died down, we’ll just have to wait for the flames to erupt – publishing is hard work and you’re gonna need a lot of fuel!!

    Your encyclopedic knowledge stands you in good stead with the folks in the Soryan Order. I’ve been enjoying the Archivist tales while I wait for Chapter 17.



    P.S. Shout out to Delena, Gamer-Girl!

    1. WZUP, Mitch?

      I think there’s still some fun to be had with this comic, but I just don’t know how invested I’d be in really giving it the push it would need.

      As it stands, I’m going to be concentrating on picking up the Soryan Order and really promoting it, plus even more creativity in 2011, so it’s time to bring it!

  4. “I decided not to come in hard with the science, but to do something basic and fun that would hopefully spark the *desire* for young kids to go learn more about these things.”

    Great way to go about it – I just read today a quote (I won’t try to recall the exact quote I’d mangle it terribly) but the gist is if you want to teach someone to build better boats you don’t teach them ship building but inspire in them a love for the ocean.

    I think you had the right idea going on – too bad it didn’t work out – good learning experience though I’m sure.

    1. Hey Rusty, yes I did learn a lot about what it would take to make something like this actually happen. If I ever went forward in the future with something like this then I’d handle it differently.

      That (paraphrased) quote is exactly what I was going for! :)

      If you can get that spark of inspiration to flare then most of the job is really done. Thanks for commenting!

  5. I’m diggin Jamal’s World. I like the little quiz interaction with the comic. A great idea for kids when reading comics because it’ll help them with their memory. Planning on making more of Jamal?

  6. Hey, John,
    what you were striving to do is very educational, as it reminded me of the period from my childhood, when I also taught from a comic book about the dinosaurs and in which periods they existed, who were the carnivorous dinosaurus and who were the plant eaters…The fact that you added even the quiz with your comic makes the whole thing more educational and evolves on higher level. Great job to keep the young reader’s attention!

    1. hi Kristina, thanks for the praise, I just wish we could have moved forward with it at the time!

      I had a little fun looking up the Dinosaur facts, as well so it was a good project!

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