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.
One of the great moments of my adulthood was my discovery -- courtesy of Mark's posts here on Boing Boing -- of the incredible work that Ernie Bushmiller did on Nancy from 1933 until his death in 1982. He was succeeded by a series of station-keeping cartoonists, some of whom were very adept at aping his unique comic timing, sense of the absurd, and confident draftmanship, but none of whom every made me have that aha moment -- until 2018, when the mysterious, pseudonymous Olivia Jaimes took over, kicking off a run of astoundingly great new Nancys that have been collected into one of the greatest new comic-strip collections I've read in a decade.
The Black Ghost: superhero noir comic starring an antiestablishment vigilante and a hacktivist sidekick
[Before he was a crime writer, Alex Segura was busily overseeing the edgy, amazing reboot of Archie Comics. Now, he's murging his murder-mystery career with his comics life, in The Black Ghost, a new noir comics collaboration with Monica Gallagher. It's a delight to offer this conversation between Alex and Monica. -Cory]
Over the years, there have been numerous proposals by the likes of MTV and HBO to bring Peter Bagge’s seminal comic Hate to the screen. Here is a 1996 pilot short, directed by Steve Loter. While the art looks great, the voices are just… wrong. SO WRONG. Yeesh. (via r/ObscureMedia)
Everybody could use a little improvement, especially those of us on the hunt for new careers. Each job requires a different set of skills, and that list can change from year to year or even month to month as new technologies emerge. When you’re in that race and need to learn fast, the old model […]
In recent years, natural language processing technology and language translation technology have advanced greatly. The trouble is, language translation software typically comes in the form of apps. And while your mileage may vary on their usefulness, they share one thing in common: a serious drain on the battery for your smartphone, the very thing you’ll […]
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