We’ve got a special guest on the blog today! Introducing… (drum roll, please)… MAKI NARO!
You think science is cold, unfeeling, and dry, right? Well, you’re absolutely right. It’s pretty terrible. But it just needs a little help! With a little comedy, some good stories, and a whole lot of comics, science can be great. You might even love it. I wonder if that’s taken already…
I’m Maki. I’m the creator of Boxplot and Sci-ence.org, which are both explorations of science and technology through the medium of graphic narrative. That’s just a fancy way of saying I draw science comics. Every week I take a look at what’s new, funny, thoughtful, or weird in science. Sometimes all of those things at the same time. What actually happens when rats are exposed to cosmic rays? Why do cartoon characters only have four fingers? Why does your beer foam up and spill all over the place when some chucklehead knocks the top of the bottle? These are the questions I’m trying to answer as irreverently as possible.
Why not? Comics are one of the greatest storytelling techniques in existence, and science is our greatest story. It’s a story about how we’ve come to understand our planet, ourselves, and the universe. There are origin stories, heroes, breakthroughs, and defeats. It’s a continuing saga that began when early humans began mapping the stars, and has continued chapter by chapter through recorded history. It’s a story that I’ve grown to love telling, and its characters are some of the most fascinating people on Earth.
No matter how much the scientific process tries to remove itself from the human element, behind every discovery there’s a person with a story. The structure of DNA was discovered using a technique that has scientists growing crystals on beard hairs and dandruff. The discoverer of nuclear fission had to flee the Nazis during WWII and her partner got all the credit (They used the discovery to make a bomb! Men, amirite?) There’s a running experiment in Australia that has been going for so long that it’s now on its third steward. Science is awesome. It’s a messy, bumbling, hilarious thing–just like the people I try to feature in my comics. Also animals. So many crazy animals.
If any of that has tickled your funny bone (it’s actually the ulnar nerve), or you just want to yell “SCIENCE!” at me (please don’t), this week, I’m going to be at New York Comic Con’s Artist Alley. Joining me is another fantastic science cartoonist, Katie McKissick, creator of Beatrice the Biologist, and the two of us are scienceing up the joint this year at table W5. I hope to see every. Single. One. Of. You.
Wait, there’s more!
Don’t stop at my sorry ass for fun science stuff. New York Comic Con doesn’t start until Thursday, but there’s a full week of geeky science fun during Super Week, NYCC’s one-of-a-kind pop culture festival, and of course, it’s chock full of science programming. Get yourself a Super Week card and enjoy special deals and first-access to many of the week’s events.
Earlier I mentioned that science is all about stories. Come listen to some of those stories on Wednesday night at 92nd Street Y with the Super Week edition of Story Collider. This monthly storytelling show has a simple premise: everybody has a story about how science made a difference, affected them, or changed them. This Super Week show features five true stories from science fiction novelists, comic book artists, and even a drunk historian. Tickets and Show info here.
Following in the example of learning by entertainment is Science Exclamation Point, an improv show and lecture series all rolled up into a hilarious ball of fun. Come on down to Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum for “an idiosyncratic mix of science & comedy devoted to the lies we tell ourselves about our brains and the lies our brains tell us about our lives (courtesy of doctored photos).”
In Science Exclamation Point, two guests give tongue-in-cheek lectures about their area of study only to have improv troupes Thank You, Robot and special guest team The Curfew turn them on their head and perform skits inspired by the lectures. Show info here!
It’s every Doctor Who fan’s dream to hop into a TARDIS and use the bathroom. No? Just me? Well at The Way Station in Brooklyn you can do just that. This steampunk/whovian bar has the Doctor’s iconic blue time machine for a bathroom (and it actually is bigger on the inside). Boasting live music and events every night, The Way Station is pulling out all the stops and sonic screwdrivers for Super Week. So put on your best fez or bowtie (both cool) for the Doctor Who Trivia and Costume Contest on Thursday. And all week long, anyone with a New York Super Week card will receive happy hour price.
On top of all that, it’s in my neighborhood, so maybe I’ll see you there! Allons-y!
Finally, if trivia is your thing, and you’re still in town after NYCC, check out Nerd Nite, hosted by Matt Wasowski. Featuring three presentations discussing “the dastardly and dark history of Monopoly, how the heck giant armies in the movies (like in The Hobbit or 300) get fed, and gaming in ancient Egypt. Bring friends, form a team, and win some badass prizes. Because you’re so smart.” Buy tickets here!
Maki Naro is a New York City cartoon character and freelance illustrator. He is the creator of Boxplot and Sci-ence.org. Maki was also a finalist on the hit reality web series, Strip Search, which has brought him nothing but fame and ruin. Follow him on twitter @sciencecomic.