Monday, December 5, 2016

Science Comics: Volcanoes: Fire and Life

Volcanoes: Fire and Life, the third volume in the Science Comics series, approaches its subject matter via a science fiction tale. In the not-too-distant-future, the Earth is in another Ice Age, and humans are scrambling to find anything they can to use as fuel to keep warm. Aurora and her brother and sister Sol and Luna are being taught by their instructor Pallas to track down resources, when they happen upon a library. Instead of looking at the building and its contents as possible fuel, Aurora starts exploring the books and learns all about volcanoes.
Much of what she finds informs her about life on Earth before she was born. It also inspires her to explore solutions to their current situation, but she gets push-back from her siblings and teacher. Still, she is very persistent and her explanations touch on a lot of information about the Earth, plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. She gets into all kinds of historical and technical information, and all of this data comes across in an interesting way. Moreover, I enjoyed how this book also presents a conundrum where people have to puzzle out different methods to solve a pressing problem and use science to find solutions. This book is not just didactic, it's also very engaging.

This volume of Science Comics was created by Jon Chad, an instructor at at The Center for Cartoon Studies. He has a couple of other excellent science themed graphic novels under his belt, starring his Leo Geo character. He also wrote and drew a bunch of mini-comics and zines as well as the horrible and hilarious The Bad-ventures of Bobo Backslack (not for children). He talks about his work on Volcanoes in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been positive. Johanna Draper Carlson wrote that "Chad does a great job keeping both the story and the education moving along." Russ Dobler opined that "The information in Science Comics: Volcanoes is expansive and well-presented, with the use of narrative hammering home otherwise hard-to-retain concepts." Rosemary stated that "The diagrams are vibrant, with comic book art adding some fun and easily memorable background information to the mix."

Volcanoes: Fire and Life was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more available here.

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