Science Comics and Branded Content

People often point to certain “science comics” as examples when I explain to them what The Project is about. In turn, I explain that while both things have science in them, and both things use sequential art, they’re not really the same. Not everyone gets it, but that’s ok. (If it helps, ask yourself if you would assume that I was writing a bodice-ripper for Mills and Boon or Harlequin if I said I were writing a novel in which there are elements of love, relationships, romance, etc., in it*.) There’s room for more than the “hey kids! science is awesome!” model, as fine a model as it is.

Since the confusion with that genre is so easily made I confess that I find myself reluctant to discuss it much here, lest I compound the confusion. That might be silly. Anyway, as an exception, I thought I’d point to a little collection of comic covers (and an extract from an interior) that the Washington Post has on its Innovations site as a piece about the movement in the fifties to get kids interested in science, through the big popular culture medium of the time – comics!

I wonder how much it worked, as compared to other efforts at the time. Is it even measurable? (For example, I think that the stuff I do in science outreach helps the cause of strengthening science (and its understanding) in society in some proportion – writing, public talks and appearances, tv, film, theatre, blogging, The Project, etc… – but how much? I don’t know, but I know the world would be much poorer without the collective output of this sort from the people who do it, so I do my part…) Are you someone who was influenced in some way by such comics in your interests, maybe even your career choices?

The gallery is here. They’re fun…

The thing that really amuses me about the whole thing is the “branded content” aspect. A filmmaker friend of mine mentioned working on branded content projects to me recently, and so it has been on my radar a bit. This whole comic series was sponsored by General Electric (GE), and the whole thing, while being a noble effort to generate science interest, was also a nice vehicle for letting everyone know how splendid GE is…

-cvj

*That’s a different project. Heh, I’ve been doing a lot of research for it…

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