Comics, Art and Science: Telling stories with pictures (that don't move)

Text of a talk given at the Nobel Museum, Stockholm
22 November 2001
©2001, Jim Ottaviani.


     slide: title

Swedish:<Good evening, and many thanks for coming.>

So again, thank you all for coming. For a comics writer from North America, sponsorship by the Nobel Museum is most unlikely, for in the United States comics have been a disreputable art form for many years. Bullied by the U.S. Congress into becoming innocuous children's reading in the 1950s, comics in the United States have only recently reached a level of maturity that you have enjoyed in Europe for many years. It's in this relatively new environment that books like those that I do-historical fiction about scientists-have been able to emerge.

      slide: Maus + Corrigan

But perhaps it's been worth the wait. I don't mind having 10 years pass between art spiegelman's completion of Maus and Chris Ware's completion of Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth, since they both are truly brilliant.

     slide: Our Cancer Year + Safe Area

And a gap of six years between Harvey Pekar and Frank Stack's naturalistic, journalistic coverage of Pekar's personal fight with cancer during the months of the Persian Gulf War and Joe Sacco's intimate reportage of the war in Bosnia in Safe Area Gorazde, well, those 6 years pass quickly in retrospect when work of their quality and depth is the result.

Professor Bárány has asked me to talk about my own work tonight, so though modest by comparison, I will. However, before I begin I do indeed urge you to seek out the books I've mentioned in the short bibliography I've prepared. My own work can only aspire to the artistry they've achieved.

In honor of the scientific roots of the Nobel Foundation, I have tried to organize my talk in the form of a typical scientific presentation…

     slide: talking points: background & theory, procedure, results & conclusions

…without the equations, though!

So I will begin with background and theory, speaking about comics as a medium and what comics do differently from other forms of the storytelling arts such as film and prose. I will then discuss how the experiments are performed-in other words, the procedure for generating data points that are comics, if you will. We'll finish by talking about the results I have achieved, and what I hope to accomplish now and in the future with the comics I do.

Comics theory

Lets begin by considering comics in the abstract, then. At their most elemental, they are words combined with pictures. As academician R.C. Harvey describes them, at their best comics are a blend of the visual and the verbal. In other words, in most good comics the picture by itself doesn't tell the whole story, nor do the words. They work together to make up a whole that is, when done well, greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Now of course, you can argue that comics work just fine without words:

      slide: example: Lucy and Charlie Brown
          [reveal in parts to emphasize the sequence]

I let you see only one part at a time to emphasize a useful definition of comics, one offered by the pioneering creator Will Eisner in Comics & Sequential Art and more recently refined by Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics, both of whose ideas I am going to present in more detail in the next few minutes:

     slide: pictures in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information or produce      an aesthetic response

That's rather abstract, isn't it! Lets look at some examples to illustrate the theory, starting with pictures.

The example I used a moment ago is from a comic strip. These are typically meant to be read quickly-while taking a sip of the morning's first cup of Gevalia, perhaps. But in comic books, which I'm going to focus on from now on, we have more flexibility in the size and arrangement of the images on the page. We can use them to slow the reader down if we provide lots of meaningful detail or speed the reader along if the focus is on simpler images and direct actions. In other words, in comic books we can make someone read the images.

     slide: example: Szilard, p. 20

In text, the action on this page could be stated very efficiently: "Leo Szilard walked from his hotel to the London School of Economics". With the photo-realistic images, though, we enforce a leisurely pace and an authentic setting for our character. The images impart information about the atmosphere of the city (strikes, bread lines, gray skies) without leaving too much to the imagination (esp. for those readers who might paint a different mental picture of London), and set things up for a discussion about the world situation (which is bad) on the following pages.

We can also speed things up using more rapid-fire imagery, such as what you saw in the Peanuts strip we looked at a moment ago.

     slide: example: McClintock, p. 88-89 (McClintock at microscope)

When we introduce captions, and some subtle repetition, such as in this example, we get a different effect. Here we more forcefully see a rapid passage of time, and the gaps.4 of time here are longer (years longer) than in the earlier examples.

     slide: example: Colleen Doran story/page

Another example of the power of comics for playing with space and time is shown here, where we simulate physical reality in an unreal setting by showing physics (in this case gravity) in action.

OK. Now lets talk a little about the words, since each of our examples has used more and more words, and you've been less able to understand what's going by just looking at the pictures.

We can't read text when we're born, but once we learn how to decode these funny marks (that don't look like much of anything, even in Chinese) new worlds open up to us. Written language provides a wonderfully abstract way to represent thoughts and ideas-much more efficiently and flexibly than with pictures. As we talked about before, viewing a picture or sequence of pictures can (and often should) take more time than reading and it's accessible to far more people as a means of expression.

Comics creators can use text to replace images, but do their best to blend words and pictures to enhance them both. And in fact, in comics text can do a number of things that it can't do in prose simply because the reader is already prepared to respond visually as well as verbally to what's on the page:

     slide: Roberts' Galileo page 1

As a simple example, comics creators can make readers view the text as images (font). Here we see the Arabian astronomers speaking with a different style from the Chinese. Perhaps it provides an accent in your mind as you look at the page? I hope so-that was my intent!

We looked at images by themselves a moment ago, but lets look again at a different example, where I've mixed words and pictures to speed things up, and also to slow things down.

     slide: Franklin (DS p. 74) by Stephanie Gladden

In the first panel, because there are words there (and an image the reader has seen before on previous pages) readers will focus on them and zoom past the image. The next panel stops the action, as Rosalind Franklin realizes that Watson and Crick have finally got their DNA model right. The next panel offers very little new information-the words are the same as the previous panel, and we have the same people showing up. The next panel is only an image, and the reader will slow down here because the image is surprising: Rosalind Franklin congratulates Jim Watson! We notice in the next panel that she also congratulates Crick but ignores Maurice Wilkins, her lab partner. And then we stop the reader cold with a change of scene and a change of mood in the last panel-no words, but the artist says everything that needs saying with her art, and the reader is alone with Franklin.

In my latest book, I've experimented with even more drastic examples of the use of text, using long stretches of it both as a design element and to impart very abstract.5 information. Here's an example:

     slide: Oppie story (Fallout, p. 162)

Now, don't worry! I don't expect anyone to read this now! In fact, if you read the book, I hope you'll find that the comics sequences in this section of the story-where we cover the 1954 security hearings of J. Robert Oppenheimer-work just fine by themselves, and the same is true (again, I hope!) for the text. But by juxtaposing bodies of text with comics, we try to lend gravity, formality, and a somber mood to the scene.

So when I think of the power of comics, I think of it in terms of the creator's ability to evoke a response in the reader by manipulating time through the use of space: Because reading is never a passive activity like watching film, comics can engage a reader more completely than either prose or film.

     slide: In comics,
          abstract (in the form of words) + concrete (pictures) = complete engagement

And that's what's special about comics: It replaces time with space-the gap between the pictures can be a moment, or years. Filling in this gap makes the reader a participant in the storytelling: comics force reader cooperation in terms of defining the distance between the panels-and that distance is measured in time, in their heads, even though it's space on the page.

Comics also offer the abstract power of words and iconic images, which readers interpret and identify with for themselves. The words are presented as part of the picture, so writers and artists can create a rhythm for the reader both in the "balloons" that contain them, and when they have design elements in and of themselves.

Comics Practice

I hope that's enough theory, because that's all I'm going to present.

So far, I've offered you examples of comics pages, often from my own books, to illustrate how comics work.

But how does one do the work of making one of those comics pages? I thought I would spend a few minutes talking about this, since for many the progress from idea to printed page is mysterious, especially when it involves both writing and drawing.

     slide: ideas >> words >> pictures >> words+ pictures >> you

The creation of any story starts with an idea in someone's head and ends at a printing press or on a computer screen. Since I'll talk about the idea part later, and because printing (or making web pages) is a matter of well-documented technique, I'll skip the end of the process too, and focus on the middle: moving from words to words and pictures.

In my studies, I've come across three main ways that comics are produced, and how they get made depends on two factors:

     slide The type of creator(s) involved (many or few) The type of story they want to tell (simple/commercially driven or "art-first") The methods I'm talking about all assume collaboration at some level. The process creators like Chris Ware or Joe Sacco go through are highly individual: works produced by one creator are bound to be that way, and there are as many methods as there are creators. Tonight I will only talk about the methods used when collaboration between writers and artists is at work, and most of the time in the U.S. used to produce simple tales suitable only for simple tastes.

Please, make no mistake: I enjoy many of these "simple stories" (which are hard to do well!) and some examples I'll give are from just such comics. But these sorts of comics are limited in the range of stories they can tell, largely because these stories rapidly became driven by a need to provide exciting visuals of the kind that couldn't be done in any other medium (at least in the aforementioned 1950s)-on a punishing monthly schedule.

     slide: plot >> art >> script

This led to a division of labor that makes sense on a commercial, if not always artistic, level, where a story would begin with a plot-perhaps produced by an editor or artist rather than a writer.

     slide: Waid plot

The plot might look like this, where basically the action on each page would be defined in brief. It could be even simpler, as instructions to the artist that "In this issue the Fantastic Four travel to a sub-atomic world and meet the Silver Surfer."

Simpler still, when the artist was even more in control of the storytelling craft, such as Jack Kirby, the plot might be sketched out right on the art itself:

     slide: Kirby pencil page

You can see from this that everything is there: Pieces of dialogue and places for it, the image sequence, plot notes.

So…the person who conceived the story was often different from the person who drew it, who was in turn different from the person who finished the pencil drawings in ink, who was different from the person who scripted the dialogue, who was different from the person who lettered in the words, who was different from the person who colored the art after all those other people had worked on it!

     slide: finished Kirby page

Now, some fine adventure stories were produced this way, some that many, including me, enjoy reading to this day. When the artist is a master with a clear, strong vision like Jack Kirby, entrusting the entire story to the artist is fine:

     slide: plot >> art >> script
          under plot/outline list editor? writer? pencil artist?
          under art list pencil artist, inker letterer, colorist
          under script list writer? editor?

However, I think you can see why stories produced under a system like this might either turn out to be lousy, or at least have to be very simple in their scope, which is why this method is still in use for the superhero genre in America. For anything more complicated, as the saying goes in Swedish <"too many cooks spoil the broth".>

Many comic books are created under the sort of assembly-line commercial conditions I just described, but some creators working for purely commercial concerns, were basically left alone. The most obvious and important example of a creator who worked alone like this is Carl Barks, and I will use him as an example of another common way of producing comics:

     slide: dialogue >> layout >> finish

This method is most appropriate for smaller operations, where the writer and artist are either the same person, or work together in close collaboration without a great deal of editorial interference.

     slide: Barks dialogue

As an example, we see here Carl Barks' dialogue for an episode of the Junior Woodchucks. These issues, done after he had retired as a comic book artist, were ultimately drawn by someone else. But all the storytelling and problem-solving in the layout work is pure Barks. To exercise more complete control, Barks took things a step further, and provided layouts:

     slide: Barks layouts

Only when the plot, dialogue, pacing, and layout were set did Barks hand off the story to another person. And at this point, again because of commercial considerations, we see that compromises occur. Notice the red line drawn across the middle of the page: Though Barks had a specific page design and pacing in mind to best serve his story, an editor later came in and changed things-probably to insert an advertisement for X-Ray Glasses and Sea Monkeys in it.

     slide: finished page from Junior Woodchucks

So, even with the best intentions and close control, commercial considerations can still intrude.

We have reached a point in the U.S. comic market, though, where comics creators like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman can avoid this sort of interference completely. Moore and Gaiman are two of the most important figures in recent years, and few people ever see anything they do…

…at least directly. They are writers, and writers with such clear visions and beauty of expression, that they can direct what appears on the finished comics page to a degree unprecedented in the history of the medium. In the past 15 years or so, writer-driven comics have emerged as an important trend. This trend is exemplified by the third method for moving from idea to page that I will talk about tonight.

     slide: full script >> layouts >> art

Now, even though it would be as foolish to compare my work to Moore's and Gaiman's as it would be to compare it to art spiegelman's and Joe Sacco's, I do use similar techniques. And since you were kind enough to invite me to speak about it, I will use my own work to illustrate what I mean.

The process starts with a subject and some vague and indistinct visions. Perhaps they're snippets of dialogue, perhaps a few key incidents, perhaps a particular effect I would like to achieve through page layout. From there, I do a lot of research, building on what I know already, and adding and subtracting ideas.

[And discarding pieces that I don't think will work. That sometimes means discarding complete stories, unfortunately. An example of this occurred in Dignifying Science, where I had originally intended to do a story about Lady Ada Lovelace, often considered to be the first computer programmer. As I got further along in my research,
I realized that I didn't believe the publicity, and that while she was a remarkable woman in many respects, I thought she received too much credit for things she didn't really do.]

But assuming I have a story I like, then I begin the process of writing. There's nothing glamorous about that, as my wife can tell you. It consists of bad moods, late nights, and unreasonable demands for total silence.

     slide: script page for Lamarr

The result is a first draft of a script. Here's an example from the Hedy Lamarr story from Dignifying Science.

What I'm showing you here is the finished script, of course, but if you'll pretend that it's a first draft, with it I have two things that are really useful:

First, I have a framework from which to rewrite the story. This draft is, with about 80% certainty, not very good and, with 100% certainty, too long. As you already know from tonight, I tend to go on! (The first draft of the script for this talk would have taken about 2 hours to sit through!)

Second, I have an idea of what style the story should be drawn in, and that gives me ideas as to which artists I should approach.

After that draft has been set aside long enough for me to forget most of the details, I go back to edit it. In this respect, I may be somewhat unusual, since for me an integral part of the editing process is drawing the script myself.

     slide: jimO pencil layouts

And obviously, I draw for only myself-no one would pay money for a comic book that looked like that! The reason I do this is simple: I need to know whether something that works just fine inside my head will work as still images, in sequence on paper. And I also need to know whether what I've asked for can actually be drawn! It's simple to write "Einstein nods his head." or "From above, we see a sailor sitting at a player piano on the deck of a battleship." but neither are easy to draw!

So as I draw my own script, I put myself in both the artist's shoes and the reader's, and see what works and what doesn't.

When I've finished, I go back and re-write the story, then hand it to some comics-literate friends for their feedback. One more editing round later, and it's off to the artist, along with as much visual reference material I can get. As an example. in my most recent book we needed to depict London taxis accurately, even though they only appeared in one panel. So off to the library I went. Which isn't as bad as it might sound-I'm a librarian, so usually the artists receive a thick package of photocopies!

I also send my stick figure layouts along for the artists to look at-or to laugh at-if they want.

Since I always work with people whose art I admire, from that point on the story is in their hands. If they have a better idea for how a story works, I encourage them to let me know.

And many of the artists do have better ideas. We talk about them and if I can explain what I had in mind (but maybe didn't describe well in the script) and why, it may end up looking like what I envisioned in the first place. If I can't explain why I want something a certain way then I defer to them.

     slide: Walton example  

And sometimes the changes come right out of the blue with no discussion. So far that's worked out great. Rob Walton's story in Two-Fisted Science is a good example. He took my pacing and dialogue and threw out everything else. He paid no attention to my sketches or panel descriptions. And the result was ten times better than how I wrote it.

Returning to the script we started with, an artist like Carla Speed McNeil will now take the script and break it into panels for herself, sometimes doing detailed sketches:

     slide: Carla Speed McNeil sketches

From there, and many months later, we get a completed comics page.

     slide: Speed final page

Whatever happens, when the artists finish the stories I get the pleasure of seeing them through somebody else's eyes. It's a lot of fun and it's one of the best things about writing comics.

And now that we've looked at my process in more detail, it's a good time to talk more about the comics I do and what I hope to achieve with them.

Comics about scientists

A few minutes ago I promised to tell you about both ideas and about the science comics I do.

I don't mean to cheat on that promise, but I can't really talk about where the ideas come from, since this is a talk about comics and not psychology. The truth is, I don't know. I do know how I got involved in comics, though: In the process of getting a bachelor's and master's degree in nuclear engineering and then working as a researcher and consultant to the electric power industry I learned plenty of science in class and on the job. Outside of class and work I enjoyed reading biographies of scientists whose discoveries I had learned about and used. I was also an avid comics reader beginning in college.

I'm pretty good at math, but slow, so it took me 10 years to put one and one together and merge my two interests!

     slide:"Heavy Water" page

[Wait. I can tell you about ideas after all. There's an even shorter version of how I began writing: I do comics about scientists because of my friend Steve Lieber, who currently draws the flagship Batman monthly. We lived close to each other (shouting distance, in fact) for a number of years. I had loaned him a copy of The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, and while we were discussing it he pointed out that a wartime meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg Rhodes described briefly had great dramatic potential. When I asked him if he'd draw the story if I wrote it up as a comics script, he said yes. A few years and a lot of research later we had "Heavy Water", one of my favorites tales from Two-Fisted Science.]

So what is my aim with these comics? This summer I had occasion to read some ancient Greek histories and biographies, and in the preface to one of the volumes I learned that we now know that at the time they wrote, the ancient Greek historians consider their histories as a branch of rhetoric. That is, the art of persuasion.

And that's where my work sits, I believe, since I'm willing to forego strict historical accuracy-I omit people, I sometimes change "trivial" sequences of events, and I always put words in peoples' mouths. So the books I do aren't histories the way scholars practice it today. I certainly never call my work history when I talk to real historians! What I write is done to introduce people to science and scientists, and persuade them that science is interesting and the life of a scientist is one worthy of respect, admiration…

…and something to aspire to.

     slide: cover of Two-Fisted Science

My first book Two-Fisted Science is multi-layered… The Galileo story we saw earlier ("Full Circle") and "Heavy Water", which we just saw, are the inner-most layer, since they both deal with freedom of thought versus the demands of those in power. The prologue and epilogue are layers since they deal with the conflict between science and beauty (which isn't really a conflict, as some of the quotes I scattered throughout the.12 book indicate). Finally, there's the cover and last interior illustration, in which two main players in the creation of the atomic bomb, Einstein and Oppenheimer, muse on the beauty of science. On the front cover Einstein, via his jab at the ugly (at least in his eyes) quantum theory, insists that science ought to be beautiful and at the end of the book Oppenheimer simply states that science, all of it, is beautiful.

     slide: cover of Fallout

My newest book, just out last week, Fallout is a new case entirely, since unlike the other books it isn't a string of related, but nonetheless separate and self-contained anecdotes. As a result, I've done much more research for this book than any others, and I've worked more from primary sources than ever before. But it's too soon for me to talk about it, so I'll skip over it for the moment and focus the rest my talk on my book about women scientists.

slide: cover of Dignifying Science

In Dignifying Science, I realized what the stories were telling me early on, and worked on a specific linear structure from the very beginning. It starts with Hedy Lamarr, who though she created the technology behind modern day cellular phones was trapped by her status as a movie star and sex symbol. Because of that status she was actively discouraged from pursuing her interest in invention.

It ends with Biruté Galdikas, who chose how she would live her life fairly early on, and does her life's work almost completely on her own terms. In the middle we have Rosalind Franklin, who was thwarted by her gender, but made conscious choices about her life that both helped and hurt her scientific career.

     slide: Curie (Severin)

Surrounding all the longer stories are short pieces about Marie Sklodovska Curie: an optimistic prologue adapted from a letter she wrote before she achieved her fame as a scientist, and a somewhat darker epilogue where she reflects on and deals with the price of that fame.

     slide: Meitner (Sorensen)

In between, the book progresses from Lise Meitner, the famous but under-appreciated (in her time) discover of nuclear fission, to Rosalind Franklin, also under-appreciated for her role in the discovery of DNA's structure.

     slide: Franklin (Gladden)

Because of the complexity of the story, and because Franklin was by all accounts a difficult character, I chose an unusual structure for her story, changing artists depending on whose perspective of Franklin we were seeing. For the objective view, Stephanie Gladden provided a cartoony approach, which allows for the greatest identification with the characters. (At least theoretically.)

     slide: Franklin (Gregory)

For James Watson's point of view, Roberta Gregory's frantic style seemed a good match for his informal personal manner, especially as described in his book The Double Helix.

     slide: Franklin (Barr)

For Francis Crick's perspective, a more elegant and ornate style seemed appropriate. And for Maurice Wilkins, who was both Franklin's closest collaborator and perhaps her greatest antagonist, controlled linework seemed like the right choice.

     slide: Franklin (Medley)

The Franklin story is followed by Barbara McClintock's, who eventually won renown and the Nobel Prize for her work. And finally, as mentioned before, it closes with Biruté Galdikas, one of Louis Leakey's famed primate ladies, though less well known than Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall.

     slide: Galdikas

Again, by opening with Hedy Lamarr, who might have achieved more in science had she not been trapped in her role as a screen actress and closing with Galdikas, who lives her life completely devoted to her personal desires as they relate to science, I hoped to show…well…progress, and provide an entry point into science for readers.

So, did it work?

Well, theoretically, yes, and I even have anecdotal evidence that people who have read my comics have pursued the information I present in the notes and references. I know of a number of classes in middle school, high school, and college where my books have made their way onto the required-or at least recommended-reading list.

And that's not surprising. We live in what is accurately called a visual age, though not necessarily a literate one. But women as a group have been ignored, or actively excluded from comics in N. America for a long time. In the 1940s and 1950s, readership was split about equally between boys and girls. By the 1980s, the numbers were more like 95% male and 5% female. The downward trend stabilized and started to reverse in the 1990s thanks to the growth in comics for college-age readers. But the dominant subject matter, that of the so-called superhero such as Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man, is completely uninteresting to most girls.

And yet women and girls are a strong demographic in terms of readership. Worldwide, women are much more likely to be avid readers than men, by almost 30%. And young girls are much more avid readers than boys.

     slide: Miyazaki

According to book trade sources I've talked with, the single fastest growing genre in N. American comics is manga-Japanese or Japanese-influenced books that have a very distinctive "look" to them. This style of comics is very visual, taking much more time and using many more images to unfold the story. The sequence you see now, if done in a more traditional western style, would take up only about half the space.

What's exciting is that most new readers of manga are quite young, and a significant number of these new readers are girls. Since for young readers of either gender, according to author Joan Aiken, "the action must be swift, continuous, and immediately gripping" it's no surprise that comics appeal to them, and manga are particularly attractive.

For even if, as in this example, there's little action, because of the images and because comics works to engage readers in ways that novels and movies cannot, we still get a swift and continuous sense of movement even though nothing much is happening.

Returning to Dignifying Science, and again borrowing from Ms. Aiken's thoughts on themes that work well for both young and older readers, I'll note that two main themes that always work for reader are injustice and reconciliation. The injustice of Hedy Lamarr's, Lise Meitner's, Rosalind Franklin's, and (for a while, at least) Barbara McClintock's stories are obvious. The reconciliations, for Franklin who has started to receive the credit she deserves, to McClintock who eventually won the Nobel Prize, to Biruté Galdikas who needs no reconciliation whatsoever, are also well suited to excite and engage readers.

So, the question remains whether Dignifying Science, and books like it, can be used to interest women and girls in science. Addressing it on a theoretical level, we've seen that reader engagement is high in comics, in ways that other storytelling media can only approach. Comics are also accessible on a visual level even when a reader's verbal skills are limited. Add to that the fact that the themes I touched on-unconsciously!-have such high reader identification, I think the answer is yes, these comics do work. At least on a theoretical basis.

It is, after all, only one book. The first and only comic book I know of about women scientists, in fact. I certainly hope it's not the last, though, since the potential for comics is so great, and the stories to tell are so numerous.

slide: comics about scientists? what a dangerous experiment.

We are living in the best times ever for good comics, all over the world. The form is mature enough to support transcendent works, and I hope you'll take the opportunity to seek out at least one of the books I mention in the bibliography. So while we have to wait 50 years or more to find out what inspired the men and women who win the Nobel Prizes in 2051, we won't be bored.

I look forward to all the great comics people will create between now and then.

Thanks to John Jackson Miller and Robert Boyd for their help with information about comic readers.


Books mentioned or referred to in this evening's talk

The Art of the Comic Book, by R.C. Harvey
Comics and Sequential Art, by Will Eisner
Graphic Storytelling, by Will Eisner
Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware
Maus, by art spiegelman
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki
Our Cancer Year, by Harvey Pekar, Frank Stack, and Joyce Brabner
any Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz
Safe Area Gorazde, by Joe Sacco
Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

Other recent books from North America you might enjoy

Age of Bronze, by Eric Shanower
Berlin, by Jason Lutes
Cages, by Dave McKean
any Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
Clan Apis, by Jay Hosler (There's science in this one!)
The Death of Speedy, by Jaime Hernandez
It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken, by Seth
Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, by Ben Katchor
Manga! Manga! and Dreamland Japan, by Frederik Schodt
Mr. Punch, by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

And should you like to sample from my own books, they include

Dignifying Science
Fallout: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and
      the Political Science of the Atomic Bomb

Two-Fisted Science

Jim Ottaviani
22 November 2001
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