Ootastic: PCOS in pictures

March 16, 2018

More comics about scientists

Filed under: comics, science — ootastic @ 12:54 pm

It’s come to my attention that my recent blog post missed some interesting comics about scientists, so please consider this a follow-up.  Matteo Farinella pointed me to his collection of Cartoon Science links, which includes Darwin: A Graphic Biography (sub-titled “the Really Exciting and Dramatic Story of a Man who Mostly Stayed at Home and Wrote Some Books”) by Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr. As recommended by Jordan Collver, Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm chronicles the controversial endeavours of Robert Oppenheimer and other atomic physicists.  Also from the same creator is Attitiudes vs Actions, a graphic essay about sociologist Richard LaPiere’s research into racial discrimination.

I was especially pleased to find more stories about female scientists. Neuroscientist Rita Levi-Montalcini has been the subject of two comics: Finding her Nerve by Dwayne Godwin and Jorge Cham of PhDcomics fame), and a 40-page comic by Manfredi Toraldo and Franceso Mobili. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu includes astronaut Mae Jemison (who also features in the Women of NASA Lego set) and forensic pioneer Frances Glessner Lee.  Also immortalised in Lego is NASA computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, who has been captured in comic form by Lucy KniselyFor International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month this March, Dale deBakcsy and Ele Willoughby have been tweeting comics and lino cuts (respectively) about illuminaries such as physicist Chien Shiung Wu, computer scientist Grace Hopper, astronomer Caroline Herschel and botanist Anna Atkins.  Finally (for now), Rachel Ignotofsky’s illustrated Women In Science includes mathematician Katherine Johnson and chemist Rosalind Franklin.


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.


April 28, 2017

“Fish And Slide Rules”: the Bille Tutte board game

Filed under: comics, science — ootastic @ 4:02 pm

I pass by the Bill Tutte memorial on a regular basis and wanted to draw something to celebrate the upcoming centenary of his birth.  As usual, any errors are my own.

March 13, 2016

30 Film Females: The Theory Of Everything (2014)

Filed under: 30 Film Females, science — ootastic @ 12:22 pm

If you haven’t read Jane Hawking’s memoir about her life with theoretical physicist Stephen, I can thoroughly recommend it. Although actor Eddie Redmayne was feted for his mind-over-matter peformance in The Theory Of Everything, it is Felicity Jones who truly anchors the film with bravery and compassion.

I’m tempted to call this doodle “A Brief History Of Dime Bars”.  It originated in an old blog post spoofing on mathematical figures/graphs around PCOS food/weight issues.  Of course, Einstein’s real mass-equivalence equation is famously the only one to feature in Stephen Hawking’s popular science book A Brief History Of Time. Incidentally, as an ex-Cambridge resident I once happened to sit next to Stephen at the cinema…

Honourable mentions for 2014: appropriately, Jessica Chastain’s tenacious physicist (and Anne Hathaway’s biologist) in Interstellar.  Also, Emily Blunt’s super soldier in Edge Of Tomorrow.



January 4, 2016

Dorothy Hodgkin: Queen of Crystallography

Filed under: science — ootastic @ 7:33 pm

Dorothy Hodgkin is a name I came across during undergraduate biochemistry lectures and have admired ever since.  Thanks to Georgina Ferry for her enlightening biography; though any errors are mine.



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