Margreet de Heer

Bits of Brain

August 7, 2013 by  


When on holiday in Christ Church, Oxford, I attended the course ‘Human Memory and the Brain’, tutored by professor Gillie McNeill, who did an excellent job in making the subject matter both digestible and enjoyable. I drew a whole bunch of cartoons during class – something I would be chided for in high school but which is encouraged now, fortunately!

When we memorize things, for example a telephone number, our brain can use a variety of strategies.

It may visualize the thing it wants to remember, which is called iconic memory:

Or we may repeat the thing we want to remember with our inner voice, which is called echoic memory:

Also, we can remember something by the way it feels to the touch, which is called tactile memory:

A whole different kind of memory is the way in which we store how we physically do things, such as riding a bike. This is called procedural memory or muscle memory:

Of course we talked about famous brain scientists, such as dr. Pavlov, who experimented with his own dogs, conditioning them to salivate when they heard a bell ring, which they had come to associate with dinner being served:

Then we also looked at how the brain is actually built. I didn’t know that the biggest part is actually like a crumpled up sheet – if you could unfold it the brain would look like a weird-shaped balloon, something like this:

 

The thalamus is where all the information from our eyes, ears, nose, taste and touch goes first, before it’s sent on to other parts of the brain where we make actual sense of it:

A huge role in memory is played by the hippocampus, which is called like that because it looks a bit like a seahorse:

The brain is made of nerve cells called neurons, which process and transmit information in the form of electrical currents:

Each neuron is in touch with huge numbers of other neurons, each passing on information:

The place where neurons almost connect is called the synaps. Here the information is transmitted in the form of neurotransmitters, which are received by receptors in the membrane of the next neuron:

I also learned that it is a myth that the brain has a fixed number of neurons and that we lose millions of them every day as we get older – in fact, every day our brain makes new neurons! We can stimulate the growing of new neurons by getting new information in, in other words: by learning in the broadest sense of the word.

Here are some things that are recommended if you want to keep your brain healthy:

(Stuff like eating fish – omega 3 – is actually a bit overrated, although it can’t hurt either)

And oh! I almost forgot! SLEEP is very good for the brain too, as it needs that down time to process all the input and embed memories.

This finally gives me a scientific excuse for my habit of sleeping in late and taking catnaps in the afternoon.

Another important thing about the brain, that I didn’t make a cartoon of, is that it is fueled by sugar – and if it’s low on that, IT WILL EAT YOUR MUSCLE TISSUE! It won’t touch any of your fat reserves, no, it goes straight to where you keep your physical strength. So if you consider something drastic like crash dieting: DON’T. You’re just undermining yourself and your ability to think straight.

In short: what you need to do to keep a healthy brain is learn, sleep and eat your breakfast.

Do you like the way I depicted these scientific concepts? Then keep an eye out for my new book Science: a Discovery in Comics, which hits the stores next month, and can be ordered already on Amazon.


Margreet de Heer

Holiday Pictures

August 4, 2013 by  


My husband and I have returned from a wonderful two weeks in Oxford, England. We took part in the Oxford Experience, a summer school program based in Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most famous colleges.

The buildings are probably best known for the movies that were (partly) shot here, such as Brideshead Revisited, The Golden Compass and the first three Harry Potter movies. Especially the awesome sixteenth century staircase leading up to Hall is a great location, and I tried to catch some of its lines and dimensions in a drawing, which took me three sessions to complete! That’s probably the longest I’ve ever taken over a single drawing – and I even left out quite a lot of detail.

I don’t often make drawings like this, I’m more used to my cartoony style. But the Christ Church architecture just really caught me – and it’s a great excuse to sit in one place for an hour or so and take it all in. This is a view in Christ Church Cathedral, where I attended a great trumpet concert:

All throughout Christ Church there are bowler-hatted men and women to herd the tourists into their specified routes. They are ever friendly and impeccably dressed:

The first week, we attended a course about Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which was written here. Our tutor was expert Edward Wakeling, collector, consultant, researcher, and writer on all things Carroll – not only a very knowledgeable man, but also immensely entertaining, full of riddles and jokes. I drew him as the Mad Hatter, with lots of references to the book and its writer:

The class consisted of a very international crowd – people from Australia, USA, Japan and Canada. After five days of total Alice-immersion, we were all inhabitants of Wonderland:

 

In the second week, we took part in the course ‘Human Memory and the Brain’, by neuroscientist prof. Gillie McNeill, who was as wise as she was enthusiastic. For another five days, we learned all about brain structure, history of brain studies, different types of memory and things you can do to keep your mind healthy (taking a course in the Oxford Experience was one of them). I made a whole bunch of cartoons during this class, which I will put up later – here’s a little preview:

At the end of our studies, we enjoyed a great formal Farewell – starting with drinks in the Cathedral Garden and ending with an amazing dinner in Hall, during which we received our certificates and heard some speeches about the Oxford Experiences and former Christ Church students (the college boasts twelve British prime ministers!). This is what we looked like in our snazzy outfits, against the centuries-old background:

 

Now it’s back to “normal” life, and anticipating the publication date of Science: a Discovery in Comics, which is not far off anymore…!


Sean Michael Wilson/ Chie Kutsuwada

The Story of Lee volume 2 – kickstarter campaign

August 1, 2013 by  


We’ve just launched a kickstarter campaign for the second volume of  THE STORY OF LEE.

 

As you may know these kind of books rarely make much money, for all the creators hard work, so support it a little if you wish to help the next book in this mature manga series come alive.

For those of you who don’t know kickstarter is a type of crowd funding, where ordinary people can help support creative ideas they like, of all types – books, films, inventions, etc. You pledge a certain amount, how much  is up to you, but the money does not get taken out until the project meets it’s funding target. It has to do this within a certain time limit (30 days normally), if not then the creators get ZERO, nothing! So, we need your pledges, however small, to help it get to the target amount.

So please hop over to the kickstarter page about it, watch the short video we made and support the book:

Nice!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/902607406/the-story-of-lee-volume-2

 


Stefan Blitz

NBM Review Round-Up!

July 31, 2013 by  


Omaha The Cat Dancer Volume 8

“Quality erotic comics.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“Dave Sim might win the title for longest and most determined self-published comic, but Omaha the Cat Dancer is much more fun and human as an artist’s significant, consuming accomplishment.”

Comics Worth Reading

Zombillenium

“A hoot from start to finish, with funny situations, great characters, witty dialogue, and art that is utterly gorgeous.”

Comics Waiting Room

An Enchantment

“Tinged with themes of regret and late life redemption, Durieux’s work is more a ruminative dialog than a complex tale. The book’s strength rests on its evocative earth-toned art and its appealing couple, who we can honestly accept in their late night museum setting. His heroine proves particularly striking; in lesser hands, she’d prove sentimentally Boho, but Durieux gives her dialogue a scholarly intelligence that’s suited to this lovingly illustrated graphic discourse on art and humanity. Every one of the volumes to date in the Louvre series has been an art and comics lover’s treat: An Enchanment does not prove an exception.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Initiates

“Davodeau and his old friend, the Loire winemaker Richard Leroy, spend a year enlightening the other about their respective professions. Wine, so often the producer of mental fog, becomes instead an agent of clarity; the two men, to say nothing of Davodeau’s readers, learn a great deal about the painstaking processes that make a comic book or a bottle.”

New Statesman

“A compelling, entertaining and educational tale that takes full advantage of the graphic storytelling medium.”

Miami Herald

“Although I’m not nearly as familiar with the French comics scene, I did recognize some of the figures mentioned in the book, like Lewis Trondheim (who makes an appearance) and Moebius. And I know even less about wine and wine-making. But even so, I really enjoyed following Davodeau and Leroy as they each explored a world that was totally new to them.”

Stargazing Dog

Stargazing Dog was first published in Japan in 2008, where it has sold over a half million copies. It’s a relatively short graphic novel that should take about a half hour to read, except that I had to take numerous breaks from reading to cry. Do not read this in a public setting…This is a must read not only for the characters and plot but for the artwork too.”

The Book Shark

Taxes, The Tea Party and Those Revolting Rebels

“Mack has a refreshingly cynical view of, well, everything. All the familiar characters (Sam Adams, George Washington, King George) are presented with their personal motives front and center. (My favorite part: after Lexington & Concord we see a silhouette of Paul Revere filling out an expense voucher for his midnight ride.) Everyone was acting out of self-interest, as is always the case, but this time the result somewhat luckily ended up advancing the cause of democracy and human rights.”

Unshelved


Stefan Blitz

PERSIA BLUES – “Engaging, Rewarding and Just Plain Refreshingly Different”

July 29, 2013 by  


If you haven’t read Persia Blues writer Dara Naraghi’s piece on Bleeding Cool from this past week you should by all means.

Persia Blues is according to Naraghi, “best described as a fusion of historical fantasy and modern social commentary, featuring a strong-willed young Iranian female protagonist.”

Sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it?

Here’s what folks across the web are saying about it:

“it’s good — it’s very good”

Comic Book Resources

“Naragahi and Bowman structure their tale in a meaningful manner, jumping back and forth between stories without disrupting the flow or hampering intelligibility.”

– Comics Alternative

“There’s a huge treat to be found inside the pages of Persia Blues.”

Graphic Novel Reporter

“Gleefully melding past and present, fact and fiction, this introductory volume revels in exploiting reader expectation and confusion to craft a beguiling multi-layered tale about family, responsibility, guilt, oppression and the hunger for independence that carries the reader along, promoting wonder and second-guessing whilst weaving a tapestry of mystery…Engaging, rewarding and just plain refreshingly different, Persia Blues looks set to become a classic in years to come.”

Now Read This


Stefan Blitz

SDCC 2013 Photos!

July 24, 2013 by  


Reed Waller in his first Comic Con appearance in twenty years, singing OMAHA V. 8. According to publisher Terry Nantier, Reed brought in more selling original art during the con than NBM did!

Pulitzer Prize nominated cartoonist, the inimitable Ted Rall.

NBM Booth Helper Le’von Brown, Booth Manager Patrick Turner and Publisher Terry Nantier.

Booth manager Patrick Turner stands over Reed Waller and publisher Terry Nantier.

Booth helper Le’von Brown, Booth Manager Patrick Turner and Publisher Terry Nantier.


Stefan Blitz

ABELARD Receives Harvey Award Nomination

July 15, 2013 by  


The Harvey Award Nominations are in and we’re proud to have received a nomination for Abelard in the category “BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL” by artist Renaud Dillies and writer Régis Hautière.

More details about the award and how to vote after the jump.

(more…)


Stefan Blitz

San Diego Comic-Con Premieres and Signing Schedule; Omaha The Cat Dancer‘s Reed Waller To Make First Convention Appearance in 20 Years!

July 14, 2013 by  


NBM PUBLISHING • BOOTH 1714

This week the annual San Diego Comic-Con kicks off and NBM will be there at Booth 1714 with the premieres of the long awaited final eighth volume of Omaha The Cat Dancer, the first volume of Zombillenium, as well as a rare appearance by Omaha co-creator Reed Waller and signing opportunities from Rick Geary and Ted Rall.

The Complete OMAHA THE CAT DANCER, Vol. 8
By Reed Waller, Kate Worley & James Vance

(ADULTS ONLY)

Omaha and Chuck struggle to put the tangled past behind them while political corruption and a tightening police investigation threaten to destroy their future and ensnare their loved ones. This volume contains the long-awaited conclusion to the internationally acclaimed sexy soap opera for adults, in which mysteries are solved, painful sacrifices are made and the lovely cat dancer takes a final turn on the stage. All-new and never before collected, Volume 8 was drawn by legendary Omaha creator Reed Waller and written by his beloved late co-creator Kate Worley, in collaboration with James Vance.

We’ll also have a specially priced bundle of The Complete Omaha The Cat Dancer which will include all 8 volumes for $89.99 (normally $107.00)

http://www.omahathecatdancer.com/

(ADULTS ONLY)

ZOMBILLENIUM: Vol.1: Gretchen
By Arthur de Pins

“A satire in the NBM tradition of BONEYARD and DUNGEON”

Francis von Bloodt, vampire, a good family man, manages the theme park Zombillenium. They don’t just hire anyone, at Zombillenium: mere mortals need not apply, the park works only with genuine werewolves, vampires and zombies. This is what Aurelian gets to discover as, burnt out, deceived by his wife, he finally gets hired in spite of himself in this strange business. Gretchen, a plucky trainee witch, helps him get around…

 

We also will have four lithographs featuring the art of Stan Mack, Rick Geary, Kevin Taylor and Cornnell Clarke.  All have been designed exclusively as prints and you can select one with a $30 purchase or a signed one for $50.

APPEARANCE SCHEDULE (Booth 1714)

THURSDAY:

  • 3 pm – 5 pm – Ted Rall
  • 5 pm – 7 pm – Rick Geary

FRIDAY:

  • 10 am – 12 pm – Rick Geary
  • 1 pm – 3 pm – Reed Waller
  • 3 pm – 5 pm – Reed Waller / Ted Rall
  • 5 pm – 7 pm – Reed Waller

SATURDAY

  • 10 am – 12 pm – Reed Waller
  • 3 pm – 5 pm – Reed Waller / Rick Geary
  • 5 pm – 7 pm – Reed Waller

SUNDAY

  • 10 am – 12 pm – Reed Waller / Rick Geary

 

 


Margreet de Heer

Science: the Middle Ages in 3 1/2 minutes (or 2 pages)

July 14, 2013 by  


I love drawing timelines. It’s a real challenge to bring down certain periods of time down to their historic essentials in a way that’s entertaining as well as educational. In my new book Science: a Discovery in Comics, I included several spreads with illustrated timelines. In a previous blog post I already showed the one for the History of the Earth – another one, on pages 58-59 of the book, is the timeline for the scientific development during the Middle Ages.

In recent weeks I’ve been experimenting with animation program Sparkol, which makes it really easy to present drawings in so-called videoscribes. The Middle Ages looked like a perfect project to make into such a scribe – maybe it even works better this way than in its original comic form, since the animation allows me to pace the information and literally lead the reader’s eye.

I’m really curious what you think! Just click on the picture to watch a thousand years in a 3 1/2 minute nutshell on Youtube.

 


NBM

NBM in September: Dillies is back with Betty Blues

July 11, 2013 by  


Here’s what’s being solicited from us in comics stores this month, to come out in September:

Dillies of Bubbles & Gondola and Abelard, both nominated for Eisners is back!

BETTY BLUES

New from ComicsLit:
BETTY BLUES
Renaud Dillies
Little Rice Duck has built himself quite the reputation around the West Wood, playing his trumpet in bars with their smoky, sweaty ambience, tequila sunrises, and jazz. But between his trumpet and his flame Betty, things are going astray. Betty is drowning her need of him in expensive champagne, something someone else is more than happy to provide… something he’d much prefer, like her, would just stay chilled.
8 ½ x 11, 80pp., full color hc, $18.99, ISBN 9781561637584

SEE THE PREVIEWS

AND NEW FROM EUROTICA:

SIZZLE #59
The kinky lavishly rendered fetish story Magenta Noir continues, along with “It Could Happen to You”, the roguish “District 69” and the return of Cornnell Clarke’s “Peanut Butter” series. Cover by Kevin (“Girl”) Taylor.
Quarterly magazine, full color, $6.99