Celebrating the Olympic Spirit with Comics

The Olympic Spirit is contagious, and in less than two months, the 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, featuring more than 10,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) competing in 329 events across 32 sports.

Each athlete and team have had months of practice, all to be tested on the grandest stage in their respective sports. While qualifying for the Olympics is a huge accomplishment of its own, everyone dreams of winning a gold medal, while spectators delight in the victories and cry with the disappointments.

In preparation for the Olympics, our Content and Engagement Specialist teams want to encourage readers to delight in gold medal comics and manga, too! The selected titles featured below are from our curated Celebrating the Olympic Spirit list, sharing the significance of individual strength and determination, the courage of sportsmanship, and the importance of teamwork.

G is for Gold Medal: An Olympics Alphabet (Cherry Lake)

Olympics enthusiasts will go on a journey through the alphabet, learning interesting facts and information about the Olympic Games. Each letter introduces a new concept or story related to the Olympics, from the history of the games to the wide variety of sports and the athletes who compete.

Too Short for the Court (Capstone)

Morgan is determined to be a good basketball player despite her height. She practices every moment she can but when she is on the court — it just doesn’t show. Her teammate, Alex, sees her disappointment and offers to help her before the championship game. Will Alex’s advice and training pay off?

Defying Hitler: Jesse Owens’ Olympic Triumph (Capstone)

This graphic biography of Jesse Owens, an African-American athlete,  documents his dominance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Owens’ four gold medals and world record challenged Adolf Hitler’s ideas of racial superiority and became a powerful symbol of athletic achievement.

The Smurf Olympics (Papercutz)

Hefty Smurf has lost his enthusiasm for exercising until Papa Smurf suggests he challenge all the Smurfs to their first Olympics. Teams are formed and Weakling Smurf is encouraged to compete individually. Follow the antics as the Smurfs train and compete for Olympic glory!

Vaulting to Victory (ABDO; English and Spanish)

Isabella trained all summer on the balance beam and she is ready to lead the gymnastics team until she learns that her rival, Morgan, has transferred to her school. Disappointed and angry, Isabella learns what true sportsmanship is about. The gymnastic events are colorful and energetically illustrate the dynamics of a gymnastics team.

Agents of Slam (Oni Press)

Katie Jones, wrestling expert and vlogger, is excited to be invited to join S.L.A.M., an organization of wrestlers serving the United States president to ensure national security. With her knowledge, she helps the team beat alien wrestlers, power-hungry rival wrestlers, and the monsters unleashed on Earth. With amazing color and action-filled scenes, readers will be delighted by the amusing wrestlers and daring stunts!

Fence (BOOM! Studios)

C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Joana LaFuente, and Jim Campbell team up to create a beautiful story set in the competitive world of fencing. Bitter rivals Nicholas Cox and Seiji Katayama fight for their spots on the illustrious Kings Row fencing team while being forced to live together. Learn about fencing while enjoying a rich character-driven story of passion and determination.

The Science of Surfing (IDW)

This graphic nonfiction book combines surfing lessons with oceanography! Best friends Sam and Jade team up to explain the science behind waves, tides, and marine life while teaching readers how to catch the perfect wave. It’s a fun and informative way to learn about the wonders of the ocean.

Days (Kodansha)

Tsukushi Tsukamoto, a young soccer player, feels insecure and unsure of his place in the world. When he tries out for the high school soccer club, many believe he will not make the highly regarded side. The team captain is quick to realize Tsukushi is determined, loyal, and has an immense heart, though. Will that be enough?

Marathon (Europe Comics)

Travel back to the 1928 Olympic Games and witness the isolation, struggle and ultimate triumph of Algerian-born French runner, El Ouafi Boughera. Nicolas Debon’s unique art styling captures gorgeous highlights of Amsterdam while showing the quiet and beauty of distance running. A classic tale of personal perseverance and overcoming the odds to achieve historic glory.

Bonus Resource

Check out this excellent free resource from Papercutz that includes a teaching guide for Asterix at the Olympic Games (part of Asterix Omnibus Vol #4) and activities that support instruction about comics, storytelling, and the history of the Olympics, from Roman Gaul to present-day France. (Download PDF)

Read All The Comics!

With Comics Plus, schools and libraries can offer readers unlimited access to thousands of digital comics, manga, and picture books from popular publishers like ABDO, Andrews McMeel, BOOM! Studios, Capstone, Cherry Lake, Dark Horse, Europe Comics, Fantagraphics, Humanoids, Image Comics, Kodansha, Lerner, Manga Classics, Oni Press, Papercutz, Tokyopop, TOON Books, UDON Entertainment, Yen Press, and dozens more.

No holds, wait lists, or monthly borrowing limits—all at a price that won’t break your materials budget.

Learn more at comicsplusapp.com and sign up for a free demo account.