Traces of the Great War resources

We are very pleased to present these Key Stage 3 resources for cross-curricular student engagement with graphic novels and comics relating to WWI

Sea Sketch by Simon Armitage and Dave McKean

Artwork for Traces of the Great War by Edmond Baudoin

Without a Trace by Robbie Morrison and Charlie Adlard

Traces of the Great War supporters

Traces of the Great War

“Traces of the Great War” is a remarkable collection of thought provoking graphic narratives, by internationally acclaimed comic book artists, graphic novelists and writers, which explores the continued relevance and resonance of the First World War and its aftermath in our lives today.

Language & literacy, history, citizenship resources for students aged 11-15

Overview of the online toolkit

This toolkit includes ready-made lesson plans and activities to encourage your students to talk and think creatively and critically about themes associated with the First World War using the medium of graphic novels, and the “Traces of the Great War” anthology in particular.

It supports learning engagement by students aged 11-15, and is designed for Key Stage 3 teachers of English Language and Literacy primarily, incorporating History and Citizenship. The activities are cross-curricular, and adaptable by individual subject teachers or for cross-curricular team work.

The resources are informed by the successful pilot project undertaken at the Queen Elizabeth School (QES) in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria. We are grateful to QES and to the teachers from Dallam School Milnthorpe, Kirkbie Kendal School Kendal, Lakes School Windermere, Queen Katherine School Kendal and IES Breckland School Suffolk who evaluated this resource pack for KS3.

The “Inquiry Graphics” method is a key methodological approach in the toolkit, which introduces a visual literacy and pedagogy method, to help you guide your students to inquire and think about images critically and deeply. The method can be incorporated into the activities when discussing images, and to prompt reflective writing, across activities, and in general.

Alongside unique graphic resources in English and French, the toolkit introduces new and exciting ways to engage your learners and support them to actively create and reflect on a variety of resources, as linked to the National Curriculum. The resources in French consist of original art and narratives in French for French teachers, without a lesson plan. The toolkit is designed to feed into your formal teaching requirements. It will trigger discussion and inform students’ creative responses. This may take the form of artwork, comic strip narrative and comics/zine library creation, writing commentary, analytical text or poetry.

Traces of the Great War

Traces of the Great War: ISBN 978-1-5343-1150-3 published in 2018 by Image Comics, hardback price £12.00, was launched at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, in October 2018. It is available from Page 45, Waterstones, through bookshops and Amazon.


Historians passionately debate the First World War: its causes and consequences, whether it was futile or essential; inevitable or avoidable. To some it was simply imperial slaughter, to others a justified war of national defence. There is no stable version of this history. It was a monumental event, but its vastness does not make it simple to comprehend. We hope that this learning resource and these short stories, which are beautifully illustrated by renowned artists, will help you challenge your students to think creatively about this complex, contested history, and how we should go on remembering it.

Greg Jenner, CBBC Horrible Histories

The medium of comics provides a wide range of genres, topics and opportunities for teachers to embed in their teaching and assessment across subjects. Although comics are commonly seen to “aid” literacy and they do serve that purpose well, it is time to embrace the medium beyond its “aid” and literacy role. This toolkit offers a stimulating and thought provoking set of activities and resources, which will invigorate teaching and pupils’ creative engagement, aligned with the National Curriculum.

Charlie Adlard, UK Comics Laureate 2017-2019

About these resources

The resource was developed by Dr Natasa Lackovic (Lancaster University (LU), Educational Research, Co-Director ReOPEN (LU’s graphic novels and comics research, outreach, pedagogy and engagement network) in collaboration with Queen Elizabeth School (in particular, French teacher Sally Stephens, English teacher Steph Weber, Art teacher Hester Harrington and librarian Gemma Sosnowsky) and commissioned by the Lakes International Comics Art Festival (LICAF), kindly supported by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

Our thanks to teachers from the schools that piloted and fed back on the draft version: Dallam School Milnthorpe, Kirkbie Kendal School Kendal, Lakes School Windemere, Queen Katherine School Kendal and IES Breckland School Suffolk.

Design by Steve Kerner, Curious Road