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:
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.
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?
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:
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!
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!
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!
Festivities are in the air – here in Holland we have no less than TWO this month. On the 5th of December, we celebrate Sinterklaas, the white-bearded saint from Spain, who visits our country with his army of Black Petes to shower the children with lavish gifts.
Here’s a comic I did in 2006, combining Sint and the political climate that year:
A year before, I made this one for girls magazine Yes:
And as soon as Sint leaves, we’ll be getting trees in to prepare for Christmas, which is always fun.
Season’s greetings, everyone!
You can order them here!
It’s Evolution Day – the anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species! Today, 154 years ago, Darwin’s work finally appeared in print, more than twenty years after he returned from his famous journey with The Beagle.
To celebrate, here are two pages from my book Science: a Discovery in Comics:
Want to read more?
(Or check it out at your library, I hear the book has hit many libraries by now)
It’s part of a comic artist’s life that assignments come and go. Last year, I was asked by magazine Open Deur to make a comic for their back page. It was a bit of an experiment for them, for the run of one year. And now the year is over and they decided to discontinue the comic.
Open Deur is a Dutch magazine that’s given out for free in churches. It has a very liberal and open character (hence the name: Open Door) and every issue has a special theme – sometimes very biblical, at other times more general. The editors gave me free range, and I took the opportunity to make the comic into a bit of an experimental place for myself. In ten issues, I have drawn very different things. I drew a Sandbox Dialogue, a comic featuring God and also did some full page illustrations. But what kept coming up were the adventures of a nameless family: father, mother and son.
Here’s the mother and son in a story about the bible book of Esther:
And here’s one about Freedom, that did not get published in the end since the back page was needed for something else:
I liked how these characters “worked”.
Maybe they’ll pop up in a later comic, you never know. But for now, it’s the end for this particular comics run.
On to the next assignment!
Science: a Discovery in Comics has been out for two months now, and has received a few really good reviews:
“Her art is simple and straight-forward, and she always chooses function over form: everything works to service the lessons she is trying to impart. When people ask me about how comics can serve a purpose in the classroom, this is precisely the kind of book I use to demonstrate that very thing.”
“A truly sharp and witty book.”
“Clear, concise, appropriately challenging and informatively funny, Science – A Discovery in Comics is a wonder of unpretentious, exuberant graphic craft and a timeless book we can all enjoy.”
“Science: A Discovery in Comics is a book that will inspire both five year olds and their grandparents as they laugh along in discovery.”
“I can’t recommend this one highly enough, both for younger readers and adults who enjoy overviews of expansive subjects.”
“If you have a curious kid in your household, you could do worse than get her this book. Even if that kid is 60 years old.”
There have also been three great interviews:
- by Clay Fernald for DigBoston.com
- “Dutch cartoonist makes learning science easier” – by Andrew Smith
- “A Discovery in Comics” – by Suzette Chan for Sequential Tart
Needless to say, I’m over the moon with all these positive reviews and interviews!
Go buy my book! That many reporters can’t be wrong!