Public Domain Comics





Comic Books Plus and the Digital Comic Museum are both excellent sources for comic books in the public domain.

I’m a huge fan of comic books , even the old ones. A 75 year old comic book is a hard sell mine do get checked out occasionally. I have successfully used them a couple of other ways.

Remix for class projects

I’ve used old comics for technology lessons on desktop publishing and writing story arcs. I take them apart using GIMP and have the students reassemble them in Google Draw or similar. The kids like the style and it saves them stress of having to draw their own.

Primary sources for reluctant readers

The Common Core emphasis on primary sources can be a challenge for reluctant readers. There are quite a few comic books from World Word II, the Korean War and the Cold War era.

Comic Books Plus and the Digital Comic Museum

Description: Sources for old public domain comic books.

License: public domain

Usefulness: maybe

imgur — easy, no registration photo hosting.

Imgur_logo.svgimgur does one thing — photo hosting. But, it does it very well. You simply upload your photo and use it on your web page.

Imgur seems almost too good to be true. It allows you to upload your image, without registration, which the site says will never be deleted.

Imgur accepts JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PDF files, which should include any type of graphic you’ve created. Any files, besides JPG, will be converted to PNG, which should not be a problem since PNG files are standard for web browsers. Nicely, Imgur also accepts XCF files which are native to the open-source GIMP photo editing program. I’m not aware of any other hosting service that allows this.

Bottom line: a very easy way to post a photo with no registration.


Description: photo hosting with no registration

License: Open Ethos

Alternatives: Flickr, Tinypic, many others

Usefulness: very

Pixabay – free graphics and photos with no restrictions

Pixabay-logo.svgNothing beats free and Pixabay offers pictures and graphics with the CC0 license which is the least restrictive license possible. Simply put: take the image and forget about it.

Pixabay_screenshotBest yet, these are good quality images.   Pixabay has almost 300,000 images which can be found with Google.

Pixabay does not require attribution although I always require my students to credit their sources even when they are public domain. Pixabay does not require sign-in although they limit your downloads to medium size.  The site comes in Spanish as well as number of other languages.

colored-pencils-168392_1280This is a fantastic site.   My only minor quibble is that they also include Shutterstock photos which are not free. This might be confusing for some students.

If your students need pictures for their projects, Pixabay is a fantastic resource.


Resource: Pixabay

Description:  Thousands of high quality pictures and graphics with no licensing restrictions.

License CC0/no restrictions

Alternatives: Wikimedia Commons

Rating: highly useful

Open Font Library – free, high quality fonts, without a hassle

open font library logoThere is no quicker way to get a virus than to click on a “1000s of Free Fonts!”link in Google.  Even if no virus, they often require registration, installing spyware or some other nuisance.

Instead, go to:   Open Font Library.    This is part of larger Libre Graphics Initiative which also supports the very useful program, Inkscape.

open font library ScreenshotFree Font Library offers only a few hundred fonts which may seem weak compared to the other sites which brag about thousands of fonts but good graphic artists know that a few high quality fonts are much more valuable than lots of shoddy fonts.  A high quality font offers separately-designed italics, bold and small caps as well as support for symbols and non-English characters.

Very importantly, Free Font Library provides a very nice font specimen which allows the user to see the font in all its formats. And, downloading is just a click.

If you need a wild decorative font then you will probably still need to risk a virus and go to one of the “1000s of Free Fonts!” websites but for your everyday needs, Open Font Library is the place.

Tool: Open Font Library
Description: free (virus free!) fonts
License: various, but all open
Alternatives: many others
Rating: very useful


morgueFile – free stock photos

jjffjj_morgueFile_logoMorgueFilemorgueFile includes a collection of free photos with very few restrictions. Many of the photos in morgueFile (why the name?) have that “stock” look associated with commercial sites.

Helpfully, photos can be searched with key words.  Less helpfully, the site also includes links to commercial stock photos which are not free.  Students will need to keep within the free portion of the site.

morgueFile uses its own license which is similar to the Creative Commons license but is slightly more confusing.  The photos are meant to be used for “reference” and not redistributed unaltered.   As I understand the license, if you put a photo on a blog or web site, the photo should have attribution and link back to morgueFile (as I do below) rather than redistributing it from your site.

For in-classroom use, this should be no problem since you are not redistributing the photo.
by Middlewick







Tool:  morgueFile
Description:  stock photos licensed for reuse
License: morgueFile license
Alternatives: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr, Yahoo CC image search
Rating: very useful

Getty Open Content Program — free photos of fine art

Getty Logo




The Getty Museum provide high quality public domain images of their collection available with virtually no restrictions (attribution is requested.)   Kudos to the Getty Trust for their dedication to open content — an effort that more appropriately should be led by publicly funded museums.   Getty_screenshot

Currently Getty provides over 87,000 public domain images which can be found on the Getty Search Gateway with the “Open Content Images” filter selected.

Click on the image below to see the excellent documentation that comes with each image.

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.
Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.








This is a fantastic contribution to the open information movement.  Thank you Getty Trust!







Tool:   Getty Open Content Program
Description:  Public domain photos of the Getty art collection.
License: Public domain with attribution requested.
Alternatives: Wikimedia Commons
Rating: very useful


openclipart – free clip art (yes, really free)

Open Clipart LogoThere are a lot of sites that offer “free clip art” but they are, in fact, a hassle to download. Some have viruses or spyware.

Openclipart ScreenshotOpenclipart is truly free… find a piece of clipart and download it. No registration, no watermarks, no royalties.

Openclipart has 50,000 images which may seem like a lot but you can not have enough clip art! As I browsed around this site, I sometimes didn’t always find what I wanted.

Even so, I suggest you bookmark openclipart and make it your first source for clipart.

Tools: openclipart
Description: free clip art
License: public domain
Alternatives: many others
Rating: very useful

Desktop Publishing with LibreOffice Draw – a school “newspaper” template

 I frequently use LibreOffice Draw for desktop publishing as I previously blogged about here.  I think this makes me unusual  since Scribus is the more-powerful, better-known open-source DTP tool.   But,  for one- or two-page items printed on a school/home printer, I find Scribus a little bit of over-kill.   (I’m not bashing Scribus!  I plan on leaning it better and reviewing it later.)

Anyway, I decided to contribute to the commons with a “newspaper” template for newsletters.  As an exercise in open-source discipline, I strictly used only open or free fonts and graphics.

iconAlthough I used LibreOffice Draw to create the template, it should work flawlessly in OpenOffice Draw (but I have not tested it.)

Although I’m pretty good with LO Draw, it still was a learning experience.  One of the biggest lessons I learned was that if one uses the “Styles” feature, every element (headline, subhead, body text) must to be in its own frame.  (frames can be joined)  I tend to do this, anyway, so it’s no big deal but this could be a deal-breaker for some.

You can preview the Newspaper Template with this PDF file.

I am keeping the file at Archive dot org since they get a lot more traffic than my site.

Here is the Newsletter Template page.   Here is a direct link to the zip file (will all fonts).





Make Beliefs Comix – easy digital story telling

mbc - logoDigital storytelling is harder than it seems but Make Beliefs Comix  makes it about as easy as possible.

The site provides you with a bunch of “clip art” characters and backgrounds and lets you add your own dialogue. It requires no sign-in and allows you to print your comic or email it to yourself.

mbc - comixThe site is oriented towards classroom use and provide teacher’s guides, lesson plans and ESL tools.

The best part is the instant gratification.  The students can quickly assemble a well-draw comic strip with an easy learning curve.  I could imagine this being the first stop in a longer lesson plan on visual story telling.

As a bonus, the site also offers a number of classroom printables by the same artist.

While the pre-defined tools may not allow for highly personal storytelling, it could be a very mbc - screen shotuseful tool for teaching the concept of storytelling through comics.

Tool: Make Beliefs Comix
Description: easy to use digital story telling tool
License: open-ethos
Alternative: many others
Rating: very useful


imgur — image hosting, no account needed

imjur - logoI use Flicker and Photobucket for most of my picture hosting but, sometimes, you just want to quickly upload a photo and link to it.   imgur is perfect for this.

imgur lets you upload photos from your computer or cross-load an image from another web site.  Best of all, there is no sign-in or cost.  I was delighted to see that imgur clearly keeps the copyright with the originator of the photo. Too many sites claim copyright to all their users’ data which is a deal-breaker for me.

imjur - screenshotimgur conveniently provides links to your file for many situations, including all the main social media sites, but I like that I can link directly to the photo, no hassles involved.

The only downside I’m aware of is that photos may be deleted if they go unviewed for more than six months.  For many of my uses, like email newsletters, this is no problem since the document is meant for a single use.

If you need to quickly upload a picture with no hassles or cost, imgur could be a highly useful service.

Tool: imgur
Description: free picture hosting site with no registration
License: open-ethos
Alternatives: Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, other
Rating: very useful