Last week, Dutch astronaut and innovator Wubbo Ockels died at the age of 68. This came as a shock to everyone of my generation who sat glued to the TV screen as a child in 1985, when he went into space. The day after I heard the news, I made this comic:
These pages will be part of the new book I’m working on, World Domination: a Discovery in Comics.
Today is the 142nd birthday of famous philosopher/mathematician Bertrand Russell. He is the one who undermined the indisputability of logic by posing his famous Paradox, which I drew in my book Science: a Discovery in Comics as follows:
If you really want to get into Bertrand Russell though, you should read Logicomix, which is an excellent graphic novel about Russell’s life and work, as well as about the making of a graphic novel about logic.
The point of Russell’s Paradox is that it is unsolvable, and therefore questions the base of logic – but if this were a riddle, I’d answer that the barber must be a woman.
(which goes to prove, I guess, that in the nineteenth century the idea of a woman shaving men’s beards went against all logic)
This year and the next, The Netherlands celebrate their 200th anniversary as a Kingdom. Museum Meermanno asked me to make ten panels about the life of William I, first King of The Netherlands, responsible for the (first) constitution. Last week, these panels were officially revealed in the Public Library in The Hague, and after 2nd of June they will travel to different libraries all across the country.
The panels turned out great: they are big, 120 x 80 cm, and consist of my comic, Yiri’s colors and an explanatory text by historian Marc Kleijnen. At the same time, text and comics have been published in a cool glossy magazine that has been distributed in schools.
Here is the first panel in translation, about William’s youth:
William’s teacher Leonhard Euler also makes an appearance in my book Science: a Discovery in Comics. He was a brilliant mathematician, and gave the world the most beautiful formula ever conceived:
If you are a Dutch library interested in having the panels as an exposition, or a school wanting to purchase the magazine (cheap!), please contact Museum Meermanno.
I’m very proud to announce that my longest running comic character, Mijntje or Minnie as I’ve called her in english, is out now as a digital comic – the first of a series, containing both old material dating back as far as 2004, and completely new never-seen-before adventures.
For people who know me solely from my educational graphic novels Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics – my Minnie comic is something completely different: these are one-page gag comics with lesbian/bisexual themes, and sometimes feature nudity or even (oh dear) full on girl-on-girl sex. There is one huge similarity with my other works though: Minnie is definitely educational.
Mijntje started in 2004 when I was still a budding comic artist, hoping for an opportunity to start a regular 1-page comic in a magazine so I could really develop a character with a background story, friends & family. This opportunity came when someone tipped me that lesbian magazine Zij aan Zij was looking for a new comic artist.
After a short briefing by editor Maria van Oosten on what she was looking for in a comic (aimed at younger audience, including bisexuals, not just lesbians), the figure of Mijntje entered my brain like a redheaded hurricane, fully fledged – there was no struggle in defining her character or appearance, it was like she had always been out there, waiting for a chance to lodge herself in my drawing hand.
Sometimes comics write themselves like that and it’s a wonderful experience, like floating. Mijntje’s comics have never been hard to write, I just have to think up a situation and Mijntje-in-my-head automatically dictates the dialogue.
I called her Mijntje because “mijn” means “mine”, and she’s been mine from the very start.
With Mijntje came her girlfriend Mia, who’s a bit more level-headed, introverted and loyal, and they’ve been together ever since the beginning. Sure, I’ve given them some challenges with Mijntje’s loose behavior, and I toyed with the idea of inflicting a break-up on them, but I didn’t have the heart. The worst they had was a full-on crisis after Mijntje slept with another girl – I made that into one long story, drawn on 24-hour comics day in 2006, it’s been unpublished up until now but will appear in Minnie’s second issue.
In Minnie #1 I have gathered some of the early stories: Minnie’s break-up with her boyfriend Ruben, the first real sex with Mia, her coming out with her mother and at her work, Minnie meeting Mia’s two lesbian mothers. The issue starts with a 3-page story that I recently drew, about Minnie as a little girl. Two pages of this story appeared in magazine Zij aan Zij, along with an interview with me, to celebrate Mijntje’s Tenth Anniversary.
I’m extra thrilled that Minnie is out as a comic now because after 2006, when I made a small booklet containing the first 15 comics, there have been many plans to publish more of her adventures – but they all fell flat. It wasn’t until last year, when Northwest Press published ten Minnie-pages in the anthology Anything That Loves: comics beyond gay and straight, that a way opened up to this international leap. Publisher Zan Christensen of Northwest Press is giving her and me this wonderful digital opportunity, and I hope Minnie will reach many new readers this way.
One of the comics in this issue I’ve made into a Videoscribe – you can see it by clicking on this picture:
Click on the picture and it will take you to the YouTube video:
I’m pretty proud of this. I used Sparkol Videoscribe to make it, a program that’s perfect for my kind of bring-your-comics-to-life animation.
The duration is just under five and a half minutes, which is an eternity on the internet – but I calculated that if I had done the timeline of the earth on the same scale as I did the Middle Ages (a thousand years in three and a half minutes), this animation would have been 30 years.
Yes, THIRTY YEARS!
Foreign book publications always remain a bit imaginary and abstract to me – until the moment the book actually arrives and I can hold it physically in my hands. Today, a package from Korea arrived with not one but TWO of my titles: Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics!
They look GREAT!
They have actual dust jackets, and underneath the cover is stylishly minimal:
The inside looks great, too! It’s very weird though, to see my drawings combined with a language I absolutely do not understand. Nice weird.
Thank you, Bulkwang Publishing and of course the Amo Agency, who acted as an in-between.
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”.
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…
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: