My Secret Parallel Life

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under NBM Blog

A long time ago, following in the footsteps of my parents, I chose to study theology, and I even graduated – so it’s only by a happy quirk of fate that I’m a comic artist now and not a minister in some faraway parish… Thank God!

Maybe somewhere, in a parallel universe, I DID become Reverend De Heer after all. I’m exploring the alternative life I could be leading in this comic I’m making for the Dutch Protestant Church Ministers Union Magazine:

(The “picturesque parish of Brokkenhoek” is a spoof on the actual village of Okkenbroek, where I grew up. The church and rectory as I draw them are exactly the same as the church my father was minister of and the house we lived in – only mirrored)

I’m actually quite enjoying drawing my parallel life.

Although, if I had become a minister, my title would probably rather be: “Irreverend De Heer”.

Uncertainty’s Birthday

February 23, 2014 by  
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Today it is 87 years ago that German physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote a letter to fellow scientist Wolfgang Pauli describing his Uncertainty Principle – the principle in Quantum Theory that you can measure an electron’s position or its speed, but not at the same time: one of these, position or speed, will necessarily remain uncertain. In my book Science: a Discovery in Comics I included it like this:

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle has spawned many jokes in theoretic physicists – maybe you’ve seen Sheldon referencing it on the Big Bang Theory! Here are a few good ones:

A quantum physicist is stopped on the highway by a police officer who asks “Do you know how fast you were going, sir?”, to which the physicist responds, “No, but I know exactly where I am!”.

Have you heard of the Heisenbergmobile? It was a big flop. As soon as you looked at the speedometer, you got lost.

Why are quantum physicists a disaster in bed? They either have the position, but can’t find the momentum – or they have the momentum, but can’t find the position!

Cartoonist Aaron Diaz made this brilliant cartoon in 2005, commenting on Heisenberg’s relationship with the nazi-scientists:

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle caused the famous though experiment of Schrödinger’s Cat – the cat in a box with radioactive poison who lives in exactly such an Uncertainty State. In 1997, when I was working on my thesis on Religion and Science, I drew this:

Unfortunately, the comic never got continued. Although you can never be certain if it won’t be, some day in the future…

 

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014 by  
Filed under NBM Blog

It’s Valentine’s Day! I went through my archive and looked up a few comics I made over the years with a Valentine theme. These two appeared in H/Link, student magazine of the Haagse Hogeschool, in 2012 and 2013:

A year later, they were a couple:

LOVE

January 24, 2014 by  
Filed under NBM Blog

This week, Yiri and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Every relationship has its own “creation myth”, so to speak; its own tale of How It All Began, to be told at dinner tables using all-encompassing gestures and eliciting “Aawww”s from the audience – here is ours:

Women in Science

January 12, 2014 by  
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Today it is exactly 99 years ago that the United States House of Representatives rejected an amendment to give women the right to vote. A representative of Ohio illuminated his position by explaining: “The women of this smart capital are beautiful. Their beauty is disturbing to business; their feet are beautiful; their ankles are beautiful, but here I must pause — for they are not interested in the state.”

The idea that women belong exclusively to the realm of beauty, bearing and raising children and running households, kept females out of important jobs for ages. The same goed for the realm of science. Fortunately there have always been women who were lucky, intelligent and stubborn enough to make themselves heard and make significant contributions.

In my book Science: a Discovery in Comics, I highlighted some of these women in their historical context:

The WiiU and me

January 6, 2014 by  
Filed under NBM Blog

For the holidays I got a Nintendo WiiU – that awesome game device you can use to play all kinds of entertainment directly on your TV screen, or, in this new version, on a beautiful touchscreen pad, which lets you enjoy features such as Art Academy, which is basically a digital drawing set of pencils and crayons.

Drawing on this device is remarkably easy. And the fun thing is I could immediately upload my pictures to the so-called MiiVerse, which is sort of like Facebook for Nintendo players. Only they give “Yeahs” instead of “Likes”, which really made me feel like the whole world was cheering me on. It’s a very friendly place, the MiiVerse. Here are some of the doodles I started out with:

Then I realized I could also access the MiiVerse from my Nintendo 3DS XL, which is this device:

I could not run the drawing program on this handheld, but I could use the sketchpad to draw messages and then post them to the Art Academy Community on the MiiVerse. It looks rather crude, just black and white pixels, but I found this sketchpad to be pretty workable, giving nice “loose” results. Here are some of the sketches I started out with:

This became addictive pretty quick. Soon I was sketching a “status update” every minute and posting them to the MiiVerse:

Yiri is trying it out as well. He has more experience than me since he often draws on a Wacom Cintiq, a touchscreen computer which he also uses for coloring my comics. Besides, he has a really nice drawing style that lends itself perfectly for these kinds of experiments:

Yes, then the holidays hit. As well as a new wave of drawings:

And this is the last one I drew yesterday. It already has 23 Yeahs! Yay!

The New Year is starting out well. New toys, new perspectives, new experiments.

2014!

December 30, 2013 by  
Filed under NBM Blog

Merry Christmas – have some Easter Eggs!

December 21, 2013 by  
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An Easter egg is: “an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature in a work such as a computer program, movie, book, or crossword.” I have hidden a few easter eggs in my books, and today, as we’re approaching Christmas, I’ll reveal some of them to you.

When you open Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics, the first thing you see is the endsheets (only in the US edition!). I have laid them out in a grid and filled them with pictures from the book:

But… wait a second! These are not ALL from the inside of the book! One of these is not like the others! It’s actually not even drawn by me! Can you tell which one it is?

It’s this:

This is Emma Ringelberg, who assisted me on the lettering of the english version. She’s a comic artist herself and makes really nice stuff, check out her blog.

On page 67 of Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics starts the chapter on Free Will, with an autobiographical scene about my time in America when I was a student. It opens with this picture:

Does that ring a bell with some of you who are autobiographical comics hoarders, like me? It should, because I drew it with this panel in mind:

That’s Joe Matt, in his famous debut album Peepshow. I love his work.

Just one page further, page 68, is a dialogue between Yiri and me about Fate and Free Will:

Never have philosophical issues about Fate been better drawn in comics than by Bill Watterson in Calvin & Hobbes. I had this strip in mind when I drew mine, and had to stop myself from using the exact same phrasing “Too bad you were fated to do that”. That would just have been too obvious.

In Science: a Discovery in Comics you’ll find this scene of a fierce debate pro and con Darwin’s theory of Evolution, that took place in Oxford in 1860, and was attended by a crowd of interested people, eager to see sparks fly:

One of the people in the crowd is none other than Redmond O’Hanlon, the great novelist/adventurer who so much regrets not having been born in the nineteenth century.

(At the moment he’s back on Dutch TV with a superb series on 19th centuries heroes of his)

That’s all for now folks!

Have a happy holiday!

Philosophy and Science in Korea

December 17, 2013 by  
Filed under NBM Blog, New Releases

In a few months, Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics will be published in South Korea. I’m very thrilled about this! It’s really strange to see my work translated into a language I can’t read at all. I love the Korean letters, they look really mysterious and elegant:

The publisher is still deciding on what covers to use. Every culture is different, I’m learning more and more that what “works” for a Western market does not necessarily translate somewhere else. I can see that maybe the image on the Philosophy cover of an open brain may be seen by some as a pretty gruesome picture! So I’m happy to help in coming up with another design. This is the proposal I made for the Korean publisher today – the upper one is Philosophy, the next Religion and the bottom one is Science.

They’ll be deciding on it later. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out!

Science: Happy Birthday, Ada Lovelace!

December 10, 2013 by  
Filed under NBM Blog

Today 198 years ago Ada Lovelace was born – an exceptionally bright woman who became the first ever computer programmer. She led a short but interesting and in the end rather tragic life, which I’d like to commemorate with this comic:

This page is actually NOT from my book Science: a Discovery in Comics, but from a small booklet I made about seven famous friendships – of which that between Ada and Charles Babbage was an important one.

But Ada Lovelace IS mentioned in my Science book, in the chapter about women scientists. By now, she is a role model for female scientists everywhere, and  even has her own celebratory day in October, Ada Lovelace Day.

Happy birthday, Ada! We who are all seated behind our computers today, salute you!

 

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