New Comics: Photosynthesis, page 16

Is it too much to hope for a little Kirby-inspired grandeur in a comic about photosynthesis? I hope not, because that’s what I was going for. Rubisco is a monstrously big cube of protein, but it is also relatively inefficient. I had always imagined it as a big, impassive galoot with lids at half mast. I also wanted something that make the page interesting and fun (to me, at least). For some reason Galactus and Ego, the living planet came to mind and the central image on the page popped into my head.

As always, this page also appears with the full story over at the Whole Enchilada.


New Comics: Photosynthesis, page 15

Must…finish…before…classes start. I’m close. We just need to meet rubisco, take a quick spin on the Calvin cycle and then recap. I’m thinking three more page. Of course, I had originally envisioned this as a 4 page explanation of photosynthesis, so what do I know? In this episode Wilbur is reunited with his long lost noggin.

The entire photosynthesis story is archived in the Whole Enchilada post.


Photosynthesis, page 14

Y’know, it it was 50 degrees outside right now, I would be walking round without a coat. But thanks to a delivery snafu, we are temporarily without oil and 50 degrees inside seems pretty doggone chilly. We are all in the office, huddling around the EdenPURE,  all in all it is nice productive family time. Which brings us to today’s photosynthesis page, produced under the watchful gaze of Max and Jack (the disembodied head bit never gets old with them).  It has been added to the full story in the Whole Enchilada archive.

On a completely unrelated note, the quote of the weekend goes to Jack. We curled up under blankets last night to watch the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and I couldn’t contain my frustration with the crappy science used to explain magic (my patience may have been worn thin by the cold…). So much elementary school science so painfully wrong (which wouldn’t have been so bad if the main character wasn’t, y’know, a physicist). Truthfully, I have no problem with magic in a movies or books (i.e. Harry Potter, Fablehaven, etc) just don’t try to make it believable. You can’t. It’s MAGIC.  Anyway, when it was all over Jack innocently pointed out to me that, with regards to the explanation of magic, “Dad, without the stupid parts, they couldn’t have made the movie.” I  completely agree. Ok, I feel better. Here’s the page…


Working on the road

We are in the midst of our yearly holiday visit to Indiana and Lisa decided that this year I was taking my drawing board (no more complaints of being bored or falling behind). So here is evidence of my productivity! This is the 12th page of the photosynthesis story and it was composed during some of the lulls in our family activities. As you can see Ant Edna and Wilbur continue their adventure in the thylakoid lumen.

Photo 553

Photosynthesis, the next page!

This page gives us a little time for nerd science humor as well as an explanation of what the heck happened to Wilbur’s energized noggin. This is page 11 in the ongoing photosynthesis saga and the end is in sight. I have 2.5 pages of script left. I usually draw two pages per page script so that means there are about 5 pages to go. That will almost certainly expand as I decide to include new stuff or go into the greater detail, but I think it is safe to say that we are well well past the half-way mark. As always, I have added the new page to the rest of the story in the burgeoning Whole Enchilada post.


Page 9 and the page 3 poll results.

So, classes are done, papers are rolling in, my finals are written and by noon tomorrow all my students will have had an opportunity to show me how smart they are and I will have a pile of grading. Time for a new photosynthesis page! Page 9 focuses the oxygen evolving complex of photosystem II. This page went through more iterations than any I have done so far as I tried to figure out ways to succinctly illustrate where each component of the water goes after being cleaved. The page is below and I have added it to the post containing the ever expanding whole enchilada.

As for the page 3 poll, the result are in: 80% of respondents voted for the new version. A total of 10 people voted (which means that each of my readers must have voted twice): 8 votes for the new,  one vote for the original and one vote for something completely different. Democracy!


Photosynthesis (or Gimme Some Sugar)

The following is a comic book story about photosynthesis. It was posted one page at a time and feedback from educators and researchers helped guide the refinement of the science presented. Anyone who teaches photosynthesis is welcome to use as much or as little as they like for their classes. If you do use it in your classes, let us know how it worked!

Read it online or download a pdf of the story.















Revision extravaganza! New pages and a online poll!

It was a busy, busy weekend. I sang in a Christmas concert, Lisa catered a retirement reception and Grandma and Grandpa Guerra were in town. Lots fun and running around, but not a lot of time to write or draw. So, over the weekend I thought a lot about some of the suggestions folks have sent my way about the latest pages. Today I took the opportunity to work through some revisions and new ideas.

The first integrates a comment from esteemed colleague and botanist Dana Dudle at DePauw University. Dana correctly noted that it takes more than one photon to pop an electron off P680. I knew that the stoichiometry was off but hadn’t forced myself to come up with a explanatory solution. I think this tweak may work. I have changed Ant Edna’s dialogue in panel three of page 8. It isn’t a huge change but I hope it is sufficient to suggest that it takes more than one photon to do this without derailing the flow of the dialogue.

Photosynthesis_pg08The second revision suggestion comes from my Comic and Culture teaching partner Dave Hsiung. Dave gave me a number of terrific suggestion, but we will start with an idea for page 3. Dave thought that the flow of the figure depicting light-dependent and light-independent reactions required the reader to make less than intuitive right and left turns as they moved through the figure. Page 3 was never one of my favorites and Dave’s suggestions were compelling (he even drew me a new suggested flow diagram). So here I present the original page, the revision and a link to a cheesy online poll so you can vote for your favorite!



The REVISION: still in the pencil stages…


And now tell me what you think by voting in this awesome ONLINE POLL!

Click here to take survey

NEW, IMPROVED Photosynthesis pages, 7 & 8: Now with more accuracy!

OK, I have incorporated ideas from Martin’s comments (which you can read in the comment section of this thread – thanks, Martin!) as well as discussions with a few colleagues here on campus. As Martin astutely pointed out, these comics are a balancing act between clarity and correctness. My hope is that I can be mostly both, but there will always be omissions of details. With any luck, the judicious use of language can create an accurate representation of the process and diligent educators can fill in finer points as they see fit.  As always, the process of making these pages has contributed quite a bit to my understanding.