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!
Sometimes I come across an old comic I made that makes me giggle. This one about Stella, which appeared in 2007 in magazine Flo’, still makes me laugh. I hope I captured something Calvin&Hobbes-y in there:
Just click on this picture and it will take you there:
On display in Museum Meermanno in The Hague right now: a great exhibition of 200 years of Dutch comics! Ever since I helped putting Dutch Comics History online on Lambiek.net, the subject has been a bit of a hobby of mine. So I was very pleased and honored when the museum asked me to draw a magazine to accompany the exhibition. It’s become a 40-page comic book, relating the history of Dutch comics mostly through several children of the past, who tell which comic they like best and why. The book is for sale only at the museum, as long as the expo lasts, which is until January 12, 2014. But here’s a bit of a preview:
I also made a short VideoScribe (in Dutch) with a few of the old comics and children from the book. Click on the picture to see it on YouTube:
Yesterday, I did a book signing at comic store The Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, and it was a great experience. The store is small but very complete, and they set me up a nice little corner with both of my books, Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics.
The right part of this picture was taken by Clay Fernald, who did a great interview with me that was published only hours before on DigBoston.com. I think it had some effect, since people came in steadily and I had some great conversations and signed quite a number of books.
In between, Yiri and I had nice conversations with the store owner, Tony, who told us that the store’s name is actually the title from a Ray Bradbury story from 1948 – it was adapted as a comic and published in EC Comics’ Weird Fantasy in 1953. This comic was the first that the original founder of the store ever read. Tony showed us the comic, and I think it’s a great story. There’s some wise words words about science in it that I thought I’d include here:
Yiri and I also had time to start a double-comic, but we didn’t quite finish it:
We really enjoyed our hours in the store – thank you Tony and crew for inviting us! We hope to be back some day!
Yesterday, we were at the Brooklyn Book Festival, which was awesome: great weather, lots of people, lots of sales. Here I am with the merchandise:
In the first few hours, before it got really busy, Yiri and I drew this comic:
The figure with us behind the booth is our beloved publisher, Terry Nantier. The character visiting the booth is NarcissMan, one of Yiri’s creations.
We’re having a blast here in the States. Our next stop will be in Boston next Wednesday, at marvelous Harvard Square comic store The Million Year Picnic.
On Friday we’ll be back in Brooklyn, at the esteemed Bergen Street Comics. They made a really nice announcement, which is featured everywhere, even on Times Square I think.
Last weekend, Yiri and I attended the SPX comics convention in Washington DC, where we met our publisher Terry Nantier for the first time, and also fellow NBM authors Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman. Together, we manned the NBM booth, conveniently placed close to the entrance, and had a great time meeting fans and selling books. Science: a Discovery in Comics was received very well, and Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics was even sold out by the end of Sunday!
Yiri and I gave out free “Double Dutch” mini-comics – a collection of the collaborative jam-comics we have done together lately (and also some we did with colleagues Floris Oudshoorn and Ingi Jensson). This proved a great way to introduce ourselves and to trade for some very nice mini-comics by others.
In between “business” on Saturday, I got to make some double-comics with Brent:
On Sunday, we were joined by Matt Aucoin, whose Double Think mini-comics I really enjoy. Yiri and I first met him through Streetpass, a connecting feature on our Nintendo 3DS game console – so one of the comics we made features the Nintendo (there were a LOT around during the expo!):
SPX was the first stop on our American Book Tour, and it couldn’t have been better!
More adventure to come!
In July, I went to Oxford Summer School and attended a course about the human brain – it still resonates with me, and somehow, consciously or subconsciously, these “brain”-drawings keep popping up in the comics I made since.
For magazine Open Deur I did an illustration about music – including the route musical sensation takes throughout our brain…
Meanwhile I’m working on a comic about inspiration, for magazine Speling, and this is how I depicted the ideas streaming into my mind (always while taking a bath)…
And this is an excerpt from the comic for student magazine H/Link, about performance anxiety:
So it’s not a big surprise that when Terry Nantier of NBM Publishing asked me to do a drawing they can make into a print to go with bigger orders, this is (part of) what I came up with:
The print is called The Science of Making Comics, and will be available with orders from $30.
I’m sure they’ll be available at SPX in Washington next week, where I’ll be signing my books Science: a Discovery in Comics and Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics – so if you’re curious about the print (or the books), drop by our booth at G1-2!