August 2011

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I’ve heard from a handful of colleagues who plan to use my Photosynthesis comic Gimme Some Sugar in their bio courses this year. If you know of anyone teaching general biology, botany, etc that might be interested, please tell them about the comic. It is online line at the link above.

Photosynthesis is the first topic I cover in Bio II and we start tomorrow. I’m having the students read the comic in advance of our first class and upload their answers to the following questions on Moodle. They aren’t difficult but that may prevent a cursory reading of the material.

1. What are the reactants and products of photosynthesis?
2. What are the two major sets of reactions?
3. Where are the photosystems located?
4. Why does Wilbur lose his head but Ant Edna doesn’t?
5. Why is splitting water so important to photosynthesis?
6. What are hydrogen ions used to make in photosynthesis?
7. Why is Wilbur’s head passed around?
8. What does rubisco do?

My hope is that they have the basics in hand before they come to our first meeting and we have a more meaningful discussion. I’ll let you know how it goes.

There is a very nice review of Evolution online in the latest issue of the Reports from the National Center for Science Education. It is particularly gratifying because the reviewer, Scott Hatfield, appreciates the importance of using a narrative to draw readers into the material. I firmly believe that a a solid framing story does more than simply covey the information. It provides context and memorable moments that give readers something to hang onto after they put the book down. It also gives them a reason to pick the book up again.

The idea of doing a comic book about the natural history of bees was met with a resounding thud when I proposed it to a few publishers back in 1998. Fortunately, with the enthusiastic support of Lisa and my friends Daryn, Gib and Rod of the Laughing Ogre, I put together a grant proposal for Peter Laird’s Xeric Foundation to get the money I would need to print the first comic issue. I received the news that the grant was funded the same week my NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship grant was funded. The NIH grant would fund three years of research and my salary. The Xeric grant would help me print 1000 copies of a floppy comic about bees. Can you guess which one I more excited about?

Anyway, it’s been 13 years since then and we just did our sixth printing of Clan Apis (and the third printing of The Sandwalk Adventures). I am deeply grateful for the hard work of Daryn Guarino at Active Synapse and for all of the support from scientists, comics professionals and fans who have written over the years. And, of course, thanks to my family who are forced to read everything I do and give feedback while tiptoe-ing around my fragile ego.

I have included a picture of each book. The cover of The Sandwalk Adventures features a new matte finish.

Photo on 2011-08-04 at 09.19

Over at Left Field, John Kerschbaum has posted a 58-page story called Family Reunion. I thoroughly enjoyed it but found it a bit humbling.  He wrote and drew it 20 years ago! John and I are about the same age and I know for a fact that 20 years ago I was still drawing stick figures in the dirt with crayons. Enjoy!

FR