Ootastic: PCOS in pictures

February 26, 2018

Comics about scientists

Filed under: comics, science — ootastic @ 6:34 pm

I’ve just finished reading the enlightening Graphic Science by Darryl Cunningham, which tells the stories of lesser known scientists such as the paleontologist Mary Anning, agriculturalist George Washington Carver and astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell.  As a scientist by day and (amateur) comic artist by night, I thought it’d be interesting to collect links to similar scientific comics.

A long time ago in a bookshop far far away, I happened to pick up the graphic bibilography Feynman by writer Jim Ottaviani and illustrator Leland Myrick. This proved such a surprisingly entertaining and informative life story of the controversial yet popular theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, that I went back further to read some of his old lectures on quantum mechanics. This encounter led me to Ottaviani’s publishing outfit G.T. Labs and their veritable treasure trove of comics about scientists (“What a dangerous experiment!”), including renowned mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, physicist Niels Bohr, psychologist Harry Harlow, and (collectively) primatologists Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas.

Another great source is the Zen Pencils cartoon blog by Gavin Aung Than which features short comics inspired by quotes from famous people, including inventor Nikola Tesla, chemist Marie Curie, inventor Margaret E Knight and astronaut Chris Hadfield.  Artist and Anne Simon and writer Corinne Maier have produced a series of books about physicist Albert Einstein, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and philosopher Karl Marx.

I found multiple narratives around certain people, including Tesla (see the aforementioned Graphic Science and Tesla by Matthew Inman), Feynman and Einstein.  However, as shown in Zen Pencils’ science all-stars poster, there seems to be a paucity of comics about female scientists.  I can thoroughly recommend The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua, which started off as a jokey one-off, turned into a webcomic and was subsequently published in fabulously footnoted book form.  In this alternate history, mathematician Ada Lovelace and inventor Charles Babbage succeed in building the mechanical computing machine known as the Difference Engine and use it to fight crime and battle economics.  Also, the MassiveSci website features a series of articles about female Science Heroes, illustrated by neuroscientist and cartoonist Matteo Farinella.  Closer to home, I’ve drawn my own comic about crystallographer Dorothy Hodgkin and have a couple of other subjects in mind (see also mathematician and codebreaker Bill Tutte).

So, if you have a favourite comic about any kind of scientist (the obscurer the better!), please let me know and I’ll add it to this collection.



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