Other Educational Comic Books

Of course we didn’t come up with the idea of using comic books to explain science ourselves!  We were inspired by other folks who were already doing it, and creating some wonderful comics.  Here’s just a partial list of the ones we recommend.

First there are the wonderful books by Larry Gonick. He is the premiere cartoonist doing educational work and has written over a dozen books covering everything from history to physics to genetics. You can find his books at your local library, book store, on-line retailer, or read more about them at Larry Gonick's own website.

Next there is wonderful comic book Space Weather done by Zander Cannon for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) (then called the Space Environmental Center (SEC)) back in 2000.  This comic explains more about how the space environment affects the Earth and our technology.  It’s no longer available from NOAA, but if you contact Zander you might be able to get a copy. (The Space Weather comic book was the original inspiration for the Cindi in... comic books. And in a “small world” coincidence, Zander was once a professor of Erik Lervold, the artist for the Cindi comics.  Thanks, Zander!) 

Zander and his colleague Kevin Cannon (no relation) formed an artists group called Big Time Attic which has put out two books on genetics and evolution called The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA and Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth. Links go to Amazon for purchasing.

Another inspiration for the Cindi in Space comic was the manga series put out by the folks over at the Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory (STEL) at Nagoya University in Japan.  They have offerings in English and Japanese, all of which can be downloaded as pdf. These were overseen by Dr.Y. Kamide and the artwork and writing were done by the manga creator Hayanon.  Hayanon actually visited NASA in June 2012 to plan some English science manga. She is also a fan of the Cindi comic books series and who knows, maybe someday we will have Japanese translations of them.


And there are Jim Ottaviani and G. T. Labs who have published several graphic novels about science and scientists. They have done this with several different comics artists and groups, including Big Time Attic.  Together with Big Time Attic they published a book called Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards which is about the nineteenth century dinosaur bone hunters and the very bitter feud between Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh.   They have also worked together on T-Minus which tells the exciting story of rocketry from the dreams of Jules Verne and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky all the way to the moon landings.  Check out some of G. T. Labs’ other cool books with other artists such as Dignifying Science (stories about women scientists), Fallout (about the nuclear scientists and the politics of nuclear power and weapons), and the biography of the physicist Richard Feynman.  You can check out a video preview of the Feynman book.

There were two reports on NPR's Morning Edition, one on February 14, 2005 by Neda Ulaby about Jim Ottaviani and his books, and one on April 8, 2005 by Sarah Hughes about using science comic books in real classrooms. They are good reports and worth listening to (particularly if you're a teacher thinking, "I wonder if I can get away with doing this in my classroom?")  And the program Science Friday has often interviewed the writers and artists who created these comics.  A keyword 'comics' search on their page should yield results of interest. 

University of Texas at Dallas 2012