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Comments for Science and Comics — Together at Last

By System @system2010-10-11 01:56:03.000Z
  1. L
    Laurie2010-10-11 03:06:00.000Z

    I like a post with a punchline.

    -A Reader of Comic Books

    1. W
      In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
      Wendy2010-10-11 14:54:00.000Z

      Double Helix has (had - I haven't read a copy of it since 2002, but I was a loyal subscriber from 1993 until then ;) a comic, which started sometime after 1997, I think. Rad and Janet, ISTR.

      As a kid, I hated it. The characters (ironically, I assume) used language that was cool back in the 80s "What a tubular science experiment Janet!" and as a kid I felt patronised. The jokes were also terrible. I understand what they were trying to do (and I'm a fan of comics) but that one really had the opposite of intended effect on me. For me, it was like those "get women into gaming/IT" promotional items you see every now and again, that think "appealing to women" means ["make it pink"]( Even at Scitech recently someone suggested we make an IT education program aimed at women by "making the information sheets pink, focusing on how people can gossip and socialise online rather than the 'more technical stuff' and showing girls the 'cute' stuff they can find online. BARF. (Hey, I also like cute stuff, but the assumptions underlying that helpful suggestion were barf-inducing).

      What's my point? Well, I totally agree with you (and posted that tweet in the hopes that conversations like this would occur) but I am a crotchety old grouch who doesn't want to see it done unless people are going to do it right (like the Cartoon Guide to Statistics, my saviour in first year Uni).

      I think the biggest problem is making sure everyone involved on a science comics project is aware of the fact that comics are not "some infantile substitute for the high-brow world of text-only media". That comics can be produced as something sharp, witty and informative. Rather than an attempt to woo the masses by pretending to understand what they like about a medium, which is what I so often see in most attempts to do educational comics. It's the same attitude that makes television stations occasionally make the mistake of airing an adult animated show in a children's time slot because they think animation = children.

      It's also the same mistake I hear being made frequently at work and elsewhere when it comes to online technologies. "We want to appeal to more teen demographics! Let's make an app/blog/widget!" Without even getting down to the crucial elements of WHY that medium is useful and instead adding it for the novelty factor, not giving it the resources it needs to flourish, and producing something half-assed that gets taken down a year later.

      As someone who has been unable to influence anyone to break out of this cycle on their own, I'd love to see my organisation, or other science organisations, produce something of quality in the field of science comics. The way we currently work, it ain't happening. There is no respect for these mediums and the work they take to do well.

      But I hope that with more conversations like this, maybe at some point someone in a higher position of authority than me will be convinced that maybe, just, maybe, online technologies, comics, videogames - can all be useful educational tools. But if you give them a budget of a childhood finger-painting, don't expect Sandman.

      Rant over, for now. But yeah, this topic is important to me, and something that has been frustrating me for about 5 years now.

      1. S
        In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
        Sylvia2010-10-12 02:28:00.000Z

        "My point is that this defensiveness is unecessary in the context of discussing the merits of a new approach, and even a little bit harmful. It elevates and even validates weak arguments and undermines an otherwise constructive message." - This is so true, of so many things. I've lost track of the number of English papers I've heard or articles I've read that spend the main part of their argument justifying even daring to HAVE an argument on their chosen topic, explaining why its worthy of interest, and generally undermining the value of their topic even while they try to persuade us to listen to them. Just stop it already, and SHOW us how interesting your topic is!