NPR logo

Holy Evolution, Darwin! Comics Take On Science

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4495248/4495758" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Holy Evolution, Darwin! Comics Take On Science

Holy Evolution, Darwin! Comics Take On Science

Holy Evolution, Darwin! Comics Take On Science

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4495248/4495758" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Physicist Werner Heisenberg as featured in a panel from Suspended a Language, which tells the story of Niels Bohr and the role he played in the history of science in the 20th century. Leland Purvis hide caption

toggle caption
Leland Purvis

Physicist Werner Heisenberg as featured in a panel from Suspended a Language, which tells the story of Niels Bohr and the role he played in the history of science in the 20th century.

Leland Purvis

Niels Bohr pictured in a free-falling elevator in Suspended in Language. Leland Purvis hide caption

toggle caption
Leland Purvis

Niels Bohr pictured in a free-falling elevator in Suspended in Language.

Leland Purvis

In recent years, a few scientists and comic book artists have joined forces to portray the excitement of science, scientific ideas and the drama of discovery.

A Honeybee's Tale

Jim Hosler's best-known comic is called Clan Apis, the biography of a honeybee named Nyuki:

'Two-Fisted Science'

Jim Ottaviani's comic Two-Fisted Science tells various stories from the history of science. Read the first four pages from the tale of Galileo, 'Full Circle':

Jim Ottaviani, a longtime comic book enthusiast and trained engineer, decided to use the format to communicate scientific fact instead of fiction. He's not an artist, but he collaborates with professionals to map out storylines and explain impenetrable scientific ideas. One of his recent graphic novels tells the story of Niels Bohr, a physicist who explained atomic structure and influenced many of the other great physicists of the 20th century, including Werner Heisenberg.

That book was a collaboration between Ottaviani and artist Leland Purvis. Jay Hosler, a biologist whose work in the medium was inspired by his childhood love of superheroes, also worked on the project.

Hosler's latest comic stars Charles Darwin; in it, Darwin explains evolutionary theory to a tiny follicle mite living in his eyebrow.

Article continues after sponsorship

Web Resources

Chick makes several Christian-themed comic books available for download.

Hosler was inspired to write the work after coming across a comic that portrayed a professor denouncing evolution as a lie, and that cast as its hero a student proponent of creationism.

The comic's publisher, a Christian fundamentalist named Jack Chick, has a large following, and his materials have been used to fuel powerful anti-science movements in churches, schools and states.

Hosler says one way scientists can counter anti-evolutionists is by using comics to tell great stories.

"I think that's what I'm trying to do," he says. "I think Darwin's life is a great story. So why not tell it as a great story?"