Sometimes the really good work/news just falls into your lap.
- First up, Boulet dropped a new comic on us. As he has done before, it is very tall, telling a story in the vertical, with visual metaphors of falling downwards ever downwards. As he has done before, there are bits of animation scattered throughout, but never enough to be a distraction; it enhances by catching the eye, but is slight enough to not distract¹.
To my recollection, however, Boulet has not done these two things in the same comic, and combining them has produced a meditation on science, philosophy, and how the replacing of myth with knowledge need not take the mystery from life. Indeed, knowing what we know and how much more there is yet to know is its own poetry, and Boulet takes us along on a journey through our solar system, every planetary discovery a verse, every realization of how much is out there and how beautiful, a refrain.
At his best, Boulet’s work leaves the reader breathless, rushing to see the outlines and boundaries of the ideas he’s exploring, then digging back in to see the details. Brassens in Space (for that is its name) is possibly his best-ever webcomics work, which is a distinction that only matters until the next time he has a big idea and does something even better. Also, The Police are along for the ride and a gleeful acceptance that the name of the planet Uranus will always be hilarious appeals to the 12 year old in all of us.
Go read it from top to bottom, bottom to top and every other way that you can; scan over it, let your eye catch on the details, see where it matches your own personal map of the universe. It’s lovely.
- About as far as you can get from the infinities of the universe, Evan Dahm posted the latest illustration of his Moby-Dick illustrations, carrying us down to the existential struggle between one wounded man and one wounded whale, with a boatful of bystanders to a slow-motion duel. Specifically, and at long last, we see the titular white whale.
Like Boulet’s universe, he’s too large to fit in a page. Unlike Boulet’s universe, he’s trapped in a space too small for him (there is no ocean large enough to avoid Ahab and the Peaquod, no infinity big enough to escape the confrontation that’s coming), and so we get a tantalizingly specific look at the great whale, wondering what monstrosity must exist if this is just a portion of his jaws. There are untold years of life and struggle in that maw, the tale of a creature obeying its nature and in increasing conflict with the world that is rapidly changing.
Once, he would have continued on as apex predator, with nothing to threaten him but old age. Now, tiny upstarts that know nothing of the depths of the sea intrude into the merest skin of his world, and are become a credible threat. He is not helpless, not yet, and those teeth will be red in the hunt and in defense for some time to come. It’s an image of direst danger and at the same time profound sympathy, and not a single hatch or shadow is misplaced.
Dahm produced a masterwork here, and more than a dozen others, and dozens yet to come in the story. Take a good long look and drink them in.
- Got a little bit heady there, so let’s finish on a more concrete note. The good folks of :01 Books will be starting a new series of nonfiction graphic novels to teach science, and the announcement fell to the science comics blogger² Maki Naro at Popular Science:
First Second Books is releasing an all new series of narrow-focus, single-topic nonfiction graphic novels aimed at middle-grade readers. Autologically titled Science Comics, each book in the series will cover a topic in the wide world of biology, chemistry, physics, and more. The idea was to publish books on subjects that could be easily worked into lesson plans, no doubt to the delight of students and educators everywhere.
The first of the series, Dinosaurs and Coral Reefs, are due to be released in May 2016, followed by and Volcanos in the fall. Each season, a new volume will be published, allowing readers to amass an encyclopedic collection. It’ll be like having a Time Life Science Library in comic books. Which is awesome!
Even better — the books will be by by :01 vets like MK Reed & Joe Flood (previously seen on Americus, The Cute Girl Network, and Orcs) and Maris Wicks (Primates, Human Body Theater). Oh, and how fresh is Naro’s information? Volcanos doesn’t even appear on the publisher’s own website yet.
Got a kid in your life that’ll be between, let’s say 4th and 8th grade come Spring? Get ready to make ’em smarter.
Spam of the day:
From hair oil to cricket, wherever Amitabh Bachchan has his name hooked up in just one way or perhaps the other he assures achievement.
You make him sound like Trump. That’s not very nice.
¹ Put another way, there are no clumsy, ugly motion comics, no uncanny valley blinking eyes here.
² In the sense that he blogs in the form of science comics, not that he blogs about science comics. Except when he does.