We delved into the physics and chemistry of comic book superheroes earlier this week, but there are some paneled pages where science doesn’t lurk beneath a cape. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite science-themed comics on the web and in print:
Bird and Moon by Rosemary Mosco (shown up top): These bright, fun, and informative nature comics will teach you many things: how to recognize common bird calls, the difference between toxic and venomous animals, the biology behind Christmas symbols like holly and poinsettia, and what to do if you find a baby bird on the ground. Mosco’s art is appealing for the sheer clarity of her line and the pleasant color palettes she works with, and her passion for science shines through on every page.
Neurocomic by Dr. Hana Roš and Dr. Matteo Farinella: A graphic novel that wends its way through the brain. But this is no ordinary anatomical tour—Neurocomic takes the reader through forests of neurons, caves of memory, and encounters with strange beasts as a way to learn how the mind plays a role in memory, sensation, and identity.
PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper) Comics: A slice-of-life strip about the trials and tribulations of academia, including but not limited to inscrutable professorial demands, the care and feeding of undergraduates, and the perils of science journalism. Author and artist Jorge Cham speaks from experience; A robotics researcher, he received an engineering degree from Stanford University and taught mechanical design courses at Caltech.
Boxplot by Maki Naro: Every week, Naro (a friend of the Festival!) tackles a variety of scientific subjects in his comic over at Popular Science. He’s covered plants that suck up radiation, Jupiter’s shrinking red spot, and the effect of microgravity on astronaut organs, among many other newsy topics, always serving up a witty twist at the end.
Freud by Anne Simon and Corinne Maier: Whether you’re familiar with Freud or not, this comic book guide to his life is the perfect balance of biography, dreamy art, and concise explanations of the principles of psychoanalysis.
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner: This daily, darkly funny gag comic frequently touches on scientific and skeptical themes. Weiner mines illuminating jokes from both larger scientific ideas and less well-known details (like the actual methods of the oft-cited Stanford prison experiment).
xkcd by Randall Munroe: Simple stick figure drawings belie the complex discussions in this comic, which delve into computer science, math, love, general nerdery, and much more. Munroe has experimented with data visualization (as seen in charts about radiation dosages, for example) and narrative (as with “Time,” a comic that unfolded over 3,099 panels spread out over four months). He also maintains a spin-off from XKCD called “What If?” where he parses outlandish questions from readers with both serious science and humor.
The Oatmeal by Matthew Inman: This cartoonist led a massive fundraising effort to help a nonprofit buy the former laboratory of Nikola Tesla, with the aim of setting up a museum (he later convinced Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk to donate $1 million to help build it). But Tesla is just one of Inman’s favorite science topics: He’s also explored the amazing properties of the mantis shrimp and the bizarre reproductive life cycle of the anglerfish.
Did we miss one of your favorite science comics? Please let us know in the comments!