Chester crab comics
Chester history comics for learning

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Chester comics history for the visual learner or reluctant reader

Comic books that bring history to life!

history in the classroom
school learning comics "My son listed you as his favorite author in his 'school years' journal. Thank you for inspiring him with your talent."

Laura, a mother
from New York
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ancient history american history

Welcome to Chester Comix! Inside this site you'll find fun samples of the way Bentley Boyd uses comix to spark interest in history for reluctant readers! Check what he's drawing now, go with him to weird historical sites across the country, or download a coloring page and put your own words into his drawings! This home page features my most recent news/blog entries. Learn more about my blog. Have fun! --Bentley Boyd

Buckeye Blitz!

December 13th, 2023

I am closing the 20th anniversary year of Chester Comix LLC with a gift to myself.

In 20 years and 38 books, I’ve covered the big stuff that kids need to know in school. The Civil War! George Washington! World War II! The Civil Rights Movement! Harriet Tubman! I am now free to draw quirkier things and fill in the odd and the less well-known stories between the big stuff. It’s a delicious freedom to draw whatever history interests me the most.

Chester began as a Virginia history storyteller. As I grew the business, the blue crab expanded his range and told a local history in Massachusetts and published a North Carolina history comic. The smartest busines right now would be to work on a state history of California or New York—nice, big markets with lots of well-funded public schools full of teachers who could use a comic about their state history!

But at this anniversary moment, I found that my patriotism for my home state was too strong. It was time to tell the story of Ohio and weave my own story into it. Since I moved back in 2015, it’s been a joy to search out the local details of hundreds of years of Ohio history. I’ve enjoyed wandering through Ohio towns that I never set foot in before. History is always informed by what we see and feel today, and I have also been inspired to do this new book by observing new history unfold over these eight years back in the Buckeye land.

I felt this so strongly that I made myself serve as Chester’s companion this time! I’ve never done that before, but this project was too perfectly personal. One example of that: After I moved back, my hometown newspaper was kind enough to do a profile of me and my historical cartooning; the story ran on the same day that the paper’s front page announced that the second-to-last big factory in my hometown was closing.

Now OHIO: Crossroad of the Nation is published. Will this book sell? Over 20 years, I’ve gotten only one Ohio museum to carry Chester Comix. Will this be the book that cracks open this market?

Here’s the secret: I don’t care! Bad business, I know. But I am already happy that the book exists. I’m sending copies to friends and family. It’s a gift back to all the people who contributed to this wonderful life I’ve had. And it’s a gift to myself. Any sales of the book now will be as delicious as putting a chocolate covering over a ball of peanut butter.

— Hey! I just got an order from a museum in New Concord, Ohio! WOOOOOT!!!

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Chester Comix at 20

February 5th, 2023

Proving just how hard his shell is, Chester Comix turns 20 years old this year.

My Chesapeake Bay buddy first showed up in 1995 in the Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, but the business that sells his adventures to young readers across the country started in 2003.

The business has survived the Great Recession. And the COVID crash. And some personal crashes. It surviving moving the whole shebang from Virginia to Ohio the fall that my dad was in hospice. That was a lot of boxes of inventory in THREE truck trips.

There has been plenty of joy. I met Weird Al and Doris Kearns Goodwin and handed them signed copies as thanks for inspiring me.

In these 20 years, I’ve spoken in classrooms from Boston to San Antonio, from Ohio to South Carolina. I loved driving all around the MidAtlantic with my boxes of books and speaking props and a really bright felt crab hat. I even found myself hauling boxes of Chester Comix across rain-soaked sidewalks in NYC one day. The cardboard boxes are a constant.

When I began, there was only one other cartoonist in the United States regularly creating history comix. Now history comix are published regularly, by a slew of artists of all generations. Your local comix shop probably has a whole shelf of these titles. It’s not just Batman and Spider-Man anymore. I like to see what the kids are doing, and I buy what I can to support them. Some of the history comix, like “March,” are true milestones in our culture. It feels like the comix scene has grown way beyond me, that it has left me and Chester behind.

But then a new fifth grader finds Chester Comix, and he lights up. And his mom or his teacher thanks me. And I light up again. And I draw some more. I’ve published 38 books in 20 years.

I’m proud of my small contribution to the rich diversity of comix storytelling you can find in 2023. The core Chester Comix idea wasn’t that revolutionary—it is a nonfiction version of the Classics Illustrated comix made for reluctant readers in the 1950s—but along the way I did create something I’ve never seen anyone else do: Choice Comix! That still feels pretty special, and I plan to keep making more of those.

The first generation of Chester readers are now doctors and professors and soldiers and parents themselves. I’m on my third generation of young readers. What a tremendous blessing.

Thanks to everyone who has helped carry me across the waters when they got rough. The loans. The extra marketing pushes. The reassurances and the quiet patience. The travel to the conferences and speaking engagements. The recommendations to your child’s school. Thanks to Chuck Durfor for taking the fun photo you see here!

And, yes, thanks to you folks who hauled some of the boxes.

I love you all.

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Wonder Women of . . . MY Century!

July 16th, 2021

The tweet joke I saw this morning applies to me, too: I’m easy to ID check now because my birthday year begins in a “19.” Don’t look now, but the 21st Century is now 1/5 over!

I had the good fortune to meet one of the women that I drew on the cover of my newest book—but now even Sally Ride has passed from our timeline. I’ve lived more than half a century myself. “History” is overlapping me!

My new book is “Wonder Women of the 20th Century,” and my next one will be about the Korea and Vietnam wars. It’s an odd sensation to draw and color scenes that I remember as current events. The good news is that my experience gives me important perspective. I’ve seen the rise and fall of ideas. I’ve seen progress and retreat.

Ride was historic for being the first American woman to go to space, and now women routinely go to the International Space Station to do important research. My own perspective was that I was just another NASA fan who eagerly watched her first flight on TV – but then I got to meet her and shake her hand in my first few weeks of college in 1985 – and then just a few months later I saw her rise to the terrible task of figuring out what had gone wrong in the Challenger shuttle explosion. The nation was in shock, but she went to work to get us to an understanding that would enable our space program to continue. Ride wasn’t just a historic first. She was a pivotal part of the United States space program throughout the 1980s.

Jane Addams also shaped the world we live in today, though her influence was at the very beginning of the 20th Century. (I did NOT get to meet her.) Most Americans don’t know her story—which makes me want to publish and promote it even more. She helped to make social work a profession, she pushed Chicago to start the nation’s first juvenile court system, and she got child labor laws passed to keep children out of factories.

Addams was one of the first stories I drew when Chester became a weekly feature in 1999, and it has one of my favorite panels: her standing in a garbage bin as a fierce champion of good sanitation for the poor sections of cities. But her story stayed out of print for 20 years after it appeared in the newspaper. When the COVID lockdown took hold in March 2020, her biography was one of the stories that I expanded and added to my smartphone app’s library. Usually, I take the five pages from a Chester story in the printed books and expand the story on the app. The Jane Addams biography becomes the first story to go in the reverse direction. Adding the app panels back into the bio created a story that is seven pages in the new printed book! She deserves it 😉

And if I get a few more years to do my storytelling, I’ll attempt a sequel of this sequel. Who should go in a “Wonder Women of the 21st Century”—-????

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