April 30th, 2009
Reading textbooks gives me scary flashbacks of my days as an undergraduate (about 2 weeks ago). I did a little research on the internet and supposedly there are these things kids are calling “light reads” that make reading fun again. Comic books/Graphic novels are the pinnacle of fun, so I put together a quick list of illustrated reading to salivate the mind in absence of raw textbook facts.
1. Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon Guides
First order of business, the master of non-fiction science comics: Larry Gonick. He’s the author of such masterpieces as The Cartoon Guide to Physics, The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, The Cartoon Guide to Genetics, and The Cartoon Guide to the Environment. I own the Physics one so I can testify that these books have high educational merit!
2. Jay Hosler’s The Sandwalk Adventures
Jay Hosler is on fire with biology themed comics. The Sandwalk Adventures is a tale of two mites living on a eyebrow follicle of Charles Darwin. Comics Worth Reading has a nice review. Also check out Clan Apis, Hosler’s comic about honey-bee life and insect society.
3. Jim Ottaviani’s Two-Fisted Science/Dignifying Science/Suspended in Language
“Two-Fisted Science, a Xeric Award-winning and Eisner nominated original trade paperback, features true stories from the history of science. Some are serious, some are humorous, and most are a bit of both. Scientists highlighted include physicists Richard Feynman, Galileo, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg, but you’ll find a cosmologist and some mathematicians inside as well.” -GT Labs
Jim Ottaviani is making big moves in the science comics game. Dignifying Science illustrates the stories of a number of famous female scientists like Emmy Noether, Lisa Meitner, Marie Curie, and Rosalind Franklin. Recently, Jim collaborated with Jay Hosler (see above) on Suspended in Language, a biography of Neils Bohr. If you’re in the area, you can catch Jim at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and get your comics signed!
4. Capstone Press’ Max Axiom/Inventions and Discovery Series
Capstone Press brings forth a veritable treasure trove of K-12 science teaching material in graphic novel format. They star Max Axiom, your standard african american superhero scientist in action-packed adventures like The Shocking World of Electricity, The Attractive Story of Magnetism, Investigating the Scientific Method, and Understanding Global Warming. Capstone Press also publishes a bunch of comics about scientists like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, and Jonas Salk. Google Books has a teaser of the Photosynthesis with Max Axiom volume.
5. Apostolos Doxiadis’ Logicomix
Logicomix is a “brilliantly illustrated tale of reason, insanity, love and truth recounts the story of Bertrand Russell‘s life”. This novel comes off as one of the more mature reads of this list, so I’m pretty excited for this comic to be released later this year.
6. Matt Fraction’s The Five Fists of Science
Okay, you might not learn a lot from The Five Fists of Science, but who can argue against a steam-punk comic featuring Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain fighting against an evil Thomas Edison?