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LSU Health Shreveport librarians create comic book about childhood obesity problem

Kate Archer Kent

A new 66-page comic book imagined by two medical librarians at LSU Health Shreveport will help kindergarteners and first graders better understand obesity.

Talicia Tarver’s “The Amazing Captain Fit” is a story about a boy who wants to be a superhero but lacks healthy eating habits. The comic book, published today, will be distributed through the Department of Pediatrics’ Reach Out and Read program. Tarver wanted to embed the message in something that kids and parents would both enjoy.

“A lot of teachers, and even professors, are using comic books -- either characters or the books themselves -- as a way to teach literacy about a variety of topics, especially science,” Tarver said. “There are some professors who are using comic books to teach physics and biology. When you do it in a way that’s fun and engages their creativity the concepts seem to stick.”

LSU Shreveport graphic design student Nick Fechter illustrated the comic book for more than six months. He admits he pulled a few all-nighters at the end to bring Tarver’s cast of characters to life.

“There’s Captain Fit and then there’s his archnemesis, Sweet Tooth, who wants everyone to eat candy and not exercise. There’s Malik, the protagonist and young boy who aspires to be Captain Fit, but his laziness and unhealthy routines prevent him from doing that. There’s also his mother who tries to get him on the right track,” Fechter said, who learned of the opportunity through his professor.

Credit Kate Archer Kent
LSU Shreveport graphic design student Nick Fechter, 24, shows off line drawings for the comic book.

This was Tarver’s first effort in writing a comic book. She sketched out the characters with her colleague Deidra Woodson who also edited the book and tested it for age appropriateness. The young boy, Malik, stares down a bowl of oatmeal right from the beginning.

“He winds up getting a series of missions from Captain Fit. Each is a task for him to perform. With each task, he gets healthier. It’s kind of like teaching them the how behind becoming healthier and being more like Captain Fit,” Tarver said.

The project was made possible through a grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine South Central Region. A web version is on the LSU Health Shreveport’s health sciences library site at healthelinks.org.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.