ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Local historian Don Haener realizes it can sometimes be difficult getting students to connect with history.
So, he jumped at the opportunity to create a comic book highlighting the War of 1812 to run in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie.
"This idea hasn't been picked up elsewhere," Haener said. "We think it will be pretty effective."
Haener, a former teacher and a regular lecturer at the Jefferson Educational Society, has worked with artist Dan Kozy to create the book.
The work, "The War of 1812: The Comic Book," is not structured like a typical comic. Instead, it is 20 pages of illustrations highlighting the most important moments of the war.
Haener has worked as a textbook writer, editor and photographer in the past. And Kozy has illustrated other books of local history and regularly creates nature and wildlife paintings at his Waterford home.
The book targets middle and high school students, particularly boys, who Haener said can be hard to reach.
"There's an age-old proverb in education that books are a young boy's nemesis," Haener said. "But if you put it in a comic-book format, there's an automatic magnetism."
Kozy said he was once one of those students who struggled with history because he was a visual thinker who had a hard time getting into the texts. He said he would have had an easier time understanding a work like their new book.
"I actually got bad grades in history," Kozy said. "I'm sure this would've helped me."
The final product has three illustrations per page, with captions highlighting different parts of the war. Each illustration, which resembles postcards from different moments of the war, was created with colored pencil and marker at Kozy's dining room table.
The biggest focus is on the Battle of Lake Erie and the exploits of Oliver Hazard Perry.
But other sections will focus on important people and events, like Francis Scott Key's experience at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, which led to the creation of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Kozy and Haener started work on the book more than a year ago.
Haener said the book is close to completion and expects to have a 50-copy test run completed around Christmas.
The book is being printed at the Erie County Technical School.
Haener said he hopes to have a second, 1,500-copy printing shortly after, correcting any mistakes spotted during the test run.
The two are still working on where the book will be available to the general public when it is finished.
Haener said he hopes to distribute the books locally at book shops, sports stores and schools.
Haener said he believes his work with Kozy will be a great way to bring history to life for them.
"We'll reach a lot of young minds," Haener said.
Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com