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November 8, 2009

cartoons and science

History of science manga. Really. There's a whole series (well, of historical figures, a few happen to be scientists inventors). See the large-eyed child Einstein? I also love how in the Einstein as young man pictures, they manage an illusion to the sorts of images of old-Einstien we all know so well.

baby manga-Einsteinyoung man manga-Einstein

Found at the museum-shop at the Exploratorium. I also managed to pick up a few Max Axiom comics - big in the USA, haven't really figured over in Blighty yet. These feature a super-hero scientist (the Max Axiom of the title), thus applying a *completely* different culture of comics-style illustration to science communication from the Horrible books (Axiom really is a super-hero scientist in a superman mould. The much more British Horrible Science would just take the piss out of such an image). You can't con me with your pic of a semi-naked hunk, you're talking about the importance of variables.

Max Axiom

To finish on a slightly more conventional type of science in cartoons (i.e. fictional science stories), I saw a great talk from Bryan Talbot at the London Comica Festival this weekend. Talbot was talking about his new book Grandville, a historical scientific detective romance, with badgers: a sort of mix of steampunk and comic art's tradition for anthropomorphic-animal characters. In the talk Talbot discussed several of his key influences, which included Beatrix Potter, Rupert the Bear and Wind in the Willows. (I should add that it is a 'grown-ups' book, even if he does draw upon kid's media.) One of the points I found especially interesting was that, with Grandville, Talbot seems to be juxtaposing a steampunk aesthetic for technology with (via the anthropomorphic animals) more Romantic aesthetics of nature in children's literature. However, I asked Talbot if this was intentional, and he said it wasn't. He also emphasised the rather un-romantic way Beatrix Potter saw nature (e.g. Tying up kittens for accurate drawings. Talbot knows about Potter, see his Tale of One Bad Rat). All interesting stuff. The Comica festival goes on till the 26th of November.