Saturday, 31 August 2013

10,000 Comics!

On Friday the 30th August 2013 editors Paul Thompson and Lydia Wysocki went to check the loading bays for comics. They were not disappointed. A nice man had signed for them the previous evening, not sure what to do next. Two pallets worth, about a metre high and three meters across. What to do with all those comics?

A thing that'll make you taller than all other humans? Yup, it's going to get stood on. The comics were so tightly packed on the pallets that they were able to hold the weight of not one but two whole humans. This comic is greater than the sum of its parts for sure. 

Thank you to everybody who helped make this comic 10,000 real things. Our contributors, our supporters, our editors, Engage NE, Newspaper Club and the nice man who signed for them on arrival. Look how happy our first reviewer is.

A challenge - each comic, folded once, is roughly 5mm, how many would we need if we wanted to stack them all the way to the moon?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Introducing Graham Pearce

Graham is the creative force behind Exceptional Man, working with scientist Karolina Rygiel and his regular colourist Jim Cameron.

Who are you?
I'm Graham Pearce, a boy from Cornwall who now lives in the North West and draws comics in his spare time. I've won an episode of The Weakest Link, I've never been drunk and once stood next to Stan Lee for 2 seconds (but keep showing the photo to make people think we're great mates).

What have you done / what are you doing?
I've spent the last 12 years writing, drawing and publishing the satirical action comic SGT MIKE BATTLE: THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO! I've got dozens more ideas in development and am currently creating a new comic called SWOOPER HEROES with my 6 year old niece.

What excites you about comics?
Comics are so versatile and it's a medium which allows you to create characters and worlds with nothing more than a sheet of paper and a pencil!

What excites you about science?
Science fascinates me more as I get older as I realise how little I understand about it.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Introducing Hayley Fowler

Hayley is the scientist behind our Climate Change and Extreme Weather comic strip. Hayley worked with artist Adam Murphy. It was great fun!

Who are you?
I am Professor of Climate Change Impacts in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University. I look at changing weather patterns, extreme rainfall and flooding mainly but in my spare time I love climbing, running and road biking and have two little boys (4 and 2).

What have you done / what are you doing?
I have been at Newcastle University since doing an MSc here in 1997. I became a Professor last year. Originally I was a Geographer (at Cambridge University). I have always been interested in how things work - both natural processes (Geography) and man-made (Engineering). I made the move into Civil Engineering during my MSc as I wanted to be able to find solutions to problems as well as understand processes! Currently I am looking at how heavy rainfall events might change in the UK in the future - particularly those that cause flash flooding in the summer - like the Toon Monsoon on 28th June last year. I also love communicating science - whether to the public/children, other academics or industry/government - you might see me in the Movies at the Monument this summer talking about using social media in science, or catch me giving the Joseph Lister Award Lecture at the British Science Festival on Wed 11 September, 2pm. Northern Stage - Climate change, extreme rainfall and flooding: what is happening to our weather?

What excites you about comics?
I was an avid Beano and Dandy reader as a kid, moving on to Asterix, Calvin and Hobbes and then The Far Side. I like the simplicity of comics. Important messages and concepts can be brought across clearly and simply but with great impact as you have the visual message as well as the words. They are also usually funny and I like the wry take on life that comics tend to bring. Using visual media is going to become more and more important in teaching and learning in the computer age and comics could be an important part of that.

What excites you about science?
What has always excited me about science is doing experiments or building computer models to find out how things work, what causes certain things to happen? At the moment I am very excited about finding out (for the first time) what might happen to summer heavy rainfall events in the future - we have tantalising results that show that these might intensify from our work with the Met Office - and also how the Himalayas might be affected by climate change - it is a really important water resource (from melting snow and ice) for a large proportion of the world's population. These are some of the big questions I think about.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Science Comic : Artists, Writers and Scientists

This page used to contain a list of our contributors while the Science Comic was in production - we now have a complete list of all the Newcastle Science Comic Artists, Writers and Scientists.

Friday, 16 August 2013

A (very brief) History of Robots

Salutations Fellow Scientists! Today we're learning about robots in this two page strip from Nigel Maughan. Click on the pictures to see each page at full size.

Send us your comics! 
Like science? Like comics? We're taking submissions for our blog, this is open to any age and ability (in short everybody). Email your science based comic to and we'll put it on the blog. Want to know more about what we're after? Check out our Open Call for Online Comics page.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Introducing Ramón Pereira

I've just come across a wonderful Pinterest board curated by Heather Wilson, the artist of our Heartland comic. She's gathered some wonderful art as inspiration for the page. A wonderful comic all about rhythm and movement. Ramón Pereira is the writer of Heartland, which is based on the science of Winne Tong. Look out for this one in the comic folks, it's mint.

Who are you?
I'm a writer, teacher, and tireless reader.

What have you done / what are you doing?
At the age of 21 I started with fanzines. Since then I went on to write short stories and articles for magazines. I've taught comic script writing and I've recently finished my first graphic novel with the illustrator Ramón Boldú titled La voz que no cesa (The Voice that doesn't cease). It's a biography about the poet Miguel Hernández, who died in jail at the end of the Spanish Civil War. It will be published by EDT and will be in bookstores September 2013.

What excites you about comics?
Comics are an excellent medium for storytelling. It's possibilities are endless because you have the resources that literature brings coupled with illustrations at your disposal. And all this combined with the language used in comics: onomatopeies, unlimited use of narrative times and, in essence, the possibility of doing anything you want. We can tell galactic stories, westerns, stories about love or superheroes without any type of budget or impediments like materials to start off with. With comics, nothing is impossible.

What excites you about science?
I'm passionate about science because it distances us from superstition and ignorance. I'm not saying that it's the only discipline that gives a sense of truth to the world, but it's discoveries have undeniably helped improve the lives of people. As technology helps us communicate better with each other and improve daily life, I think that there are also other dangers we need to take into consideration from other disciplines such as philosophy.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

So... how does the Greenhouse Effect work?

Greetings fellow scientists! We've had our first comic submission for the blog and here it is. Click on the picture to see it at full size.

This comic was made by Terry Wiley who also features in the pages of Asteroid Belter, the Newcastle Science Comic.

Send us your comics! 
Like science? Like comics? We're taking submissions for our blog, this is open to any age and ability (in short everybody). Email your science based comic to and we'll put it on the blog. Want to know more about what we're after? Check out our Open Call for Online Comics page.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Introducing Oscillating Brow

Oscillating Brow once created (drew and photocopied) a comic so popular that it kept selling out at a local pop-up shop. He found this quite troubling and protested at length whenever he received the profits. Oscillating Brow is in it for the comics. He wants to draw them and share them. O.B. has contributed a comic demonstrating a brilliant grasp on Astoundishing Science and all it's implications. This was lettered and coloured by Paul Thompson. The two had so much fun working together they teamed up again to make one of our puzzles.

Who are you?
Oscillating Brow

What have you done / what are you doing?
I draw daft comics because it's fun. I even print my own small comics occasionally. I've been a member of the Paper Jam Comics Collective since the very start and have done a story in each of the PJCC anthologies. You can read some comics I drew (mostly at Paper Jam meetings) here. Occasionally I write reviews and articles about comics for the Newcastle City Library graphic novel reading group 'Readers of the Lost Art' (see here).

What excites you about comics?
Drawing silly stuff, ideally with shouting and gurning (but preferably not involving backgrounds or perspective or any of that nonsense). The great thing about comics is that anyone can do it. Pick up a rudimentary drawing implement, find a bit of paper, draw a sequence of pictures - BOOM! If you haven't drawn a comic recently, have a go. Right now. Stop reading this. Stop it. Go on, do it now. ... Fine have it your way, but I'm tutting at you.

What excites you about science?
Anything amazing and it's all amazing. We take so much for granted but if you look objectively at life today, it's like magic. I think science is basically magic that someone somewhere can explain and has replicatably demonstrated beyond current reasonable doubt. It's pretty exciting that science is still happening, and at a faster rate than ever. Where will it end? (well, the heat-death of the universe, I guess, but that's got to be quite a way off).

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Introducing Brian Randell

I'm happy to say that our definition of science also includes computing science. You can't really talk about the history of computing science without getting into Bletchley Park - which, by the way, is an amazing place to visit and one of the few places where it's essential to go on the tour. Every member of staff has a real passion for the place and it makes the experience really cool. Brian Randell's work rediscovering the Colossus and the work at Bletchley Park during World War II are the topic of not one but two comics - including a brilliant cypher puzzle comic by Paul Thompson and a comic featuring Brian himself drawn by Sigmund Reimann with words adapted from Uncovering Colossus by Alexi Conman - A Colossal Achievement. Let's have Brian speak for himself:

I graduated in Mathematics from Imperial College, London in 1957 and joined the English Electric Company where I led a team that implemented a number of compilers, including the Whetstone KDF9 Algol compiler. From 1964 to 1969 I was with IBM in the United States, mainly at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, working on operating systems, the design of ultra-high speed computers and computing system design methodology. I then became Professor of Computing Science at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where in 1971 I set up the project that initiated research into the possibility of software fault tolerance, and introduced the "recovery block" concept. Subsequent major developments included the Newcastle Connection, and the prototype Distributed Secure System. An at times very active side activity has been the history of computing, one high point of which was the “discovery” of the Colossus computer, developed for code-breaking at Bletchley Park during World War II. I have been Principal Investigator on a succession of research projects in reliability and security funded by various UK and European agencies. I am now Emeritus Professor of Computing Science, and Senior Research Investigator, at Newcastle University.

My personal home page is at:

Introducing Marcus Kaiser

Explaining epilepsy to a younger audience was a challenge for us. It can seem a very scary thing, specially as we're still learning about it. Luckily the excellent team of Marcus Kaiser and Cuttlefish were on the case with their comic The Hyperactive Brain.

Marcus studied biology and computer science now works at Newcastle University in the field of Neuroinformatics which combines both areas. He observes how the human brain is connected and how the wiring from patients with developmental diseases differs from healthy subjects. By using computational tools he aims to better diagnose brain disorders and to inform about the most suitable therapy for individual patients. Current projects involve the simulation of human brain development to understand the rise of schizophrenia, Tourette Syndrome, and epilepsy ( ) as well as the development of novel treatments for epilepsy patients.

Schematic drawings, or comics in other terms, are an essential tool to communicate ideas within my lab and with other researchers. These are exciting times for our research field as, for the first time, we have enough data to build realistic models of human brain development and brain function. More information about our research can be found at and there are various Neuroinformatics training opportunities at Newcastle (

Introducing Liz Todd

We've covered biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and more, not to mention loads of science that is so awesome we just can't categorise it. It was fascinating learning about how human beings communicate - with scientist Liz Todd and artist John G. Swogger with their comic Watching you... Watching me...

Who are you?
My science is educational psychology. I am Professor of Educational Inclusion at Newcastle University and in the past I have worked as a maths teacher, educational psychologist, therapist and on a market stall.

What have you done/ what are you doing?
I use video and narrative to bring change in relationships, whether this is in families, schools or between those working in children services. I also try to get schools to open their doors to their communities and to have a range of professionals offering services from within schools. I am passionate about getting young people involved in research.

I have written 3 books that represent my research over the last 20 years. Their titles are:
Beyond the School Gates: Can full-service and extended schools overcome disadvantage? (with Alan Dyson and Colleen Cummings); Video Interaction Guidance (with Hilary Kennedy and Miriam Landor); and Partnerships for inclusive education: A critical approach to collaborative working (I wrote this by myself). Two of these books have been given prizes.

What excites you about comics?
They get over tough ideas in a fun and interesting way so everyone can talk more about science

What excites you about science?
It's the asking of questions that I like about science. I like having ways to explore what we can know about the world. For me this is the world of people interacting with each other within complex contexts.

Contact/ Links



Friday, 2 August 2013

Introducing Terry Wiley

As I declared earlier, everything is connected. Terry Wiley is connected with scientist David Alderson by the comic Everything's Connected. Figuring out complex networks and how they connect isn't just serious stuff, it's fun too. Terry was also kind enough to be one of our earliest contributors by helping put together our school activities pack, Science FACT-ion.

Who are you? 
Terry Wiley

What have you done / what are you doing?
I drew the massive 480-page black & white 'Sleaze Castle' collection (which is not at all sleazy),
and now I'm doing a 160-page colour story 'VerityFair' (warning - cotains bums and swears).

What excites you about comics?
Comics are the ultimate combination of Show and Tell - OK, maybe film is good at that too, but comics
only need 1 millionth the budget of a film!

What excites you about science?
Science is is what's left when you get rid of all the flim-flam, hearsay, self-deception, lies, exaggerations,
hard-sell, gibberish and hoo-hah we ape folks chuck at each other every day.


Introducing Alexi Conman

Enigma of a man, Alexi Conman has been kind of hiding in the background ever since Newcastle Science Comic became a thing giving endless support and and opinion. Alexi is the writing mastermind behind The Amazing Three Parent Monkey, working with scientist Sourima Shivhare, artist Tony Hitchman and colourist/letterer Paul Thompson.

Who are you?
Alexi Conman. I write comics sometimes.

What have you done / what are you doing?
I've scripted comics stories in various anthologies, you can see the full list here.

What excites you about comics?
Sequential Art is a medium that has almost limitless storytelling potential; its unique visual syntax (a synthesis of lexical and iconic and mimetic pictorial elements) makes it incredibly adaptable, potentially complex, yet naturally intuitive.

What excites you about science?
That it might save humanity from itself, an edifice up which we might climb to the stars.


Introducing David Alderson

One of our favourite things about this project has been the chance to share big ideas that don't normally reach younger audiences. Everything's Connected, drawn by Terry Wiley, with science from David Alderson is a huge idea. From flushing the loo or turning on a light to whether your train arrives on time, it's all connected, with all the disruptions possible I'm surprised any of this works at all. So let's have David introduce himself and tell us a bit about what he does...

My name is David Alderson, and I have been working as a researcher in GeoInformatics at Newcastle University since 2005. Geomatics, geoinformatics and many derivatives thereof in general refers to the study, measurement, and management of earth-related things. Think Google Earth, and you are nearly there. It could include monitoring biodiversity by collecting crowd-sourced data on species sightings, developing models of infrastructure networks for failure analysis, to delivering web sites and web services for people to get access to spatial data. This data comes in many forms, from GPS positions, detailed land and building surveys, satellite imagery and aerial photography – with the one thing they have in common being that they are all related to the Earth, and position on the Earth.

In the past I have worked largely to manage, store and then deliver, mainly via geospatially-enabled websites, spatial data of all kinds. A couple of projects that I have been involved in involve crowd-sourcing data to help validate flood models and collect experiences of flood events, to collecting species sightings around the North East of England. I have worked with the Met Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) and many others to help deliver the latest climate change projections, back in 2009. As climate change is largely accepted by all in the scientific community as a genuine challenge facing mankind over the next 10, 20, 50, 100 years and beyond, the tools and websites that I have been involved in developing, help to disseminate data that can aid decision makers to make better informed decisions. This is particularly important, for example, when considering what types of energy-generation technologies to invest in, or what carbon reduction strategies to employ. My current research, and largely the inspiration for getting involved in the comic, is focussed on the modelling, study and analysis of traditional infrastructure networks including roads, rail, energy, water and solid waste. We are trying to understand how infrastructure networks are affected by climate-related hazards, such as flooding, but then also understand how the supply and demand for infrastructure services will change over the next 100 years as the economy and population changes.

Comics excite me both because they are so much fun to read but can feasibly by focussed around any topic imaginable. When speaking with the artists and writers during the production of the comic, the alternative ways of portraying a specific idea seemed endless, and often presenting information in such different ways can lead to a better understanding of patterns, or identification of other interesting artefacts. I think the idea of joining up science and research within the comic medium for communication offers a completely different mechanism for disseminating concepts, ideas, research, data to the general public and other researchers. Scientists in academia are largely judged by their ability to, and frequency with which they, publish in peer-reviewed journals about their specific subject. However these are not necessarily easily-accessible to the general public or children alike, despite the proliferation of open access publishing and the accessibility offered by web-based publishing. The use of a comic as an alternative method brings in an element of fun to scientific research, and ultimately that is probably the best way to attract children and teenagers to becoming interested in science – BY MAKING IT FUN!


More information about some of the work that I have been involved in at Newcastle University, and also some of the work that the Geospatial Engineering, Geodesy and School of Civil Engineering at Newcastle have undertaken and are currently involved in can be found from the following links: - Geospatial Engineering Blog - Geospatial Engineering Research Website - David Alderson, University Profile – School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University
Specific websites related to my work: - Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (motivation behind comic) - UK Climate Change Projections ‘09 - User Interface to UK Climate Change Projections ‘09 - MorpethFlood / ToonFlood crowd-sourcing - Species sightings crowd-sourcing