Free Comic Book Day: Why write science comics?
In honor of Free Comic Book Day, we present this essay by Maris Wicks, author of Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, and the co-author, with Jon Chad, of "Science Comics," a free comic available in comics stores all over the world today. See the bottom of the post for an exclusive preview of Science Comics!
I often get asked the question “Why comics?” My answer usually boils down to “Because I can’t help it.” There’s obviously more to it than that -- when I discovered comics as a kid, I used the medium’s language to experience and interpret the world around me. Every car honk became a sound effect, every conversation contained within word balloons, every smelly thing accompanied by stink lines. Comics even allowed me to contemplate the passage of time in a profound way: one panel to the next could signify the passing of a second, while another one panel to the next could signify the passing of a lifetime. For an artsy kid who already thought about the world in such a visual manner, comics gave me an excuse to work in words.
And that leads me to perhaps a more important answer to the question “Why comics?” After spending years as an educator, and ruminating on my own personal experiences in education, I found that comics and cartoons were one of the most engaging ways to share information. Teachers and librarians have recognized that comics are often a way to get reluctant readers reading. Watching kids gobble up any kind of comics, and even better, create their own, is fantastic. So now let me ask a slightly different question:
“Why science comics?” Well, there’s still my initial “I can’t help it.” On a selfish level, I just really love science and want to find any way jam information about gastropods or the circulatory system or solar nebulas into my personal work. On a less-selfish, more reflective level, I will tell you that I was a reluctant reader and an average student who struggled in Math and English. Part of the reason that I struggled was that I was (and still am) a hands-on visual learner, and the older I got, the fewer of those experiences were available to me in the public school system. Add the social pressure of middle school to the mix, and I became a painfully shy kid who nearly slipped through the academic cracks. When I had difficultly learning in school, I believed it to be my own fault, and as a result, I felt dumb. It took years to realize that I wasn’t dumb, and that I could actively learn about any subject, even the ones that I had previously struggled with. I just needed to find the way that I learned best. But I only realized this as a grown-ass adult, and at that, one who had access to educational support in family and teachers.
With all that in mind, when I set out to create comics about science, I have “little Maris” in mind, and any other kids out there who are faced with similar struggles when it comes to learning. If I can take a subject and explain the way that it makes most sense to me, maybe it will resonate with others. Even now, as I write this, I’m thinking to myself that this article would work better in comics form.
Jonathan Coulton is known for a myriad of distinct accomplishments. The tech professional-turned-musician once conducted a Thing a Week experiment, in which he recorded and published a new song every Friday for a year, produced a cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” infamously adopted by the Fox series Glee, regularly contributes to the NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another” as its very own one-man band, and runs his own fan cruise aptly called the JoCo Cruise.
Fundamentalist cartoonist Jack Chick wrote to J. Edgar Hoover in 1971 seeking the FBI’s help with his bizarre religious comics. Today we publish that correspondence in its entirety for the first time, after obtaining it through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Terms and Conditions: the bloviating cruft of the iTunes EULA combined with extraordinary comic book mashups
Back in 2015, cartoonist Robert Sikoryak started publishing single pages from his upcoming graphic novel Terms and Conditions, in which he would recount every word of the current Apple iTunes Terms and Conditions as a series of mashup pages from various comics old and new, in which Steve Jobsean characters stalked across the panels, declaiming the weird, stilted legalese that “everyone agrees to and no one reads.”
Thread count isn’t like one of those deceiving metrics like camera megapixels or Facebook friends—more threads are always better if you can afford them. If price was no object, we would all be snoozing soundly bundled up in 1.8 kilo-thread sheets every single night. Guess what? Price doesn’t have to be an object with this […]
Maybe it’s entirely because of podcast ads, but drag-and-drop tools like Squarespace have gotten immensely popular in recent years. While it’s definitely a great tool for any non-coders who want to get a small website up and running quickly, managing content with a primarily visual interface can become a pain once you have more than […]
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]