Yesterday I came back from Italy, where I presented Neurocomic at the Settimana del Cervello and gave a lecture at the Master in Communicazione della Scienza. Thanks to all the people who came by, and especially to the students, who were very welcoming and have great projects of their own! Other things happened but I’ll give more details about this in due time… Today – just to linger on the Italian theme – I want to remember 6 Gradi Di Separazione, my first book ever published, back in March 2013 by Bel-Ami Edizioni. These days I rarely have time to think about this early experiment of mine but at least once a year I want to pay my tribute. So, to mark the 2nd anniversary of the publication, here is a little painting inspired by a real advertisement I saw on the tube a while ago and – like many things in that book – can assume a bitter double meaning if you have been in a long-distance relationship.
I have been kind of quiet lately. The reason is that I started working at Science-Practice two weeks ago and I’ve been too busy learning about amazing new technologies. This is going to slow down my drawing for a while but no doubts it’s also going to inspire some pretty futuristic comics at some point, so stay tuned!
Talking about the future: after a Sunday immersion at Futurefest, this week I’m back in Italy to present Neurocomic at the Settimana Del Cervello. This is an excellent (neuro)science communication festival which I remember attending back when I was still an undergraduate in Bologna, before I even decided to study the brain (let alone writing a comic about it!). So I was very pleased to receive this invitation and, if you happen to be near Trieste, I hope you’ll join me this Saturday 21 March, 17:30 at the Libreria Lovat.
I spent the best part of the week drawing a 6-pages comic to submit to the Stripburger open call. It’s a science-fiction story with much more ‘fiction’ than ‘science’ (for once) which I wrote a long time ago and it was really good to get out of my system. It features comets, an evil scientist and some kind of love… it’s a metaphor for how science, in its attempt to control the universe, sometimes forgets about human emotions. I hope you will be able to read it in print soon, in the meanwhile here is the cover:
Here is my entry for the Flame Challenge 2015, a brilliant initiative from the Alan Ada Center for Communicating Science which challenges scientists to answer a question asked by 11-year-olds (who are also going to be our judges).
This is also my first attempt to produce some kind of animation and – although I always knew it was hard work – I was shocked by the amount of time it went in this short video (my respect to all the animators out there!). In fact I would have never made it without the help of Pamela Parker (undercurrentdesign.com) who provided precious creative input, narration and put the whole thing together in AfterEffects, and the professional sound design of Andrew Jones (acmesoundtracks.com). They are so good, you should hire them! On this one we all worked for free so I really hope you will enjoy it.
This month neuroscience lost one of its great masters: Vernon B. Mountcastle, who first discovered the columnar organization of the cerebral cortex. His pioneering work has been awarded many prizes and laid the foundations for a lot of contemporary research in the field (including my PhD). Many excellent articles have already been written about it, but I wanted to pay my personal tribute to this great explorer of the brain. Here is how he would have appeared in Neurocomic, reaching new peaks of scientific discovery:
Last week I was doing some research on sensory receptors for a new project I am working on, and I noticed how most of the scientific illustrations of skin are boringly caucasian. At the same time I was trying to teach myself to paint with gouache so I decided to make a colourful skin illustration, here you go:
I always wanted to experiment with webcomics and since I discovered the presentation software Prezi I thought it could be a good way to do it. This year I finally decided to give it a try and started working on a Prezi version of the famous T.S.Eliot poem: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (you can listen to the original, read by Eliot himself). This kind of adaptations are always dangerous but I preferred to work with an established text rather than my own story, in order to reduce the variables (as a scientist would say). In other words: if you don’t like it you can blame the technique – or my use of it – not the content. Also, I think that poems with their recursive structures and powerful images are very well suited to the format.
The result? Well, only you can judge (click on the picture to start the Prezi):
PS: my personal opinion is that Prezi needs a few major tweaks to become a real tool for cartoonist but it definitely has some potential.
Remember the illustrations I did for Susan McGregor about digital security? Well, we followed up with this poster summarizing the different steps of digital communications, the point of weakness and ways to protect them. If you want a printed version to hang in your office or your classroom you can buy it HERE.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: the 2015 Humanist Calendar is out!
I always wanted to make a calendar that was something more than pretty pictures to hang on the wall, something that could actually give a twist to the new year. For 2015, Undercurrent Design and I decided to collaborate on a calendar that celebrates the greatest achievements of human reason and the birthdays of some of our favourite scientists. From Ada Lovelace to Isaac Newton (who was conveniently born on the 25th of December) passing from π day and the discovery of DNA.
My 12 original illustrations were remixed by Undercurrent Design on a two sided poster (195mm x 841mm) that folds down to a booklet, printed in full colour and silver metallic ink. It is the perfect gift for all your enlightened friends and also a little act of charity: in fact we decided to donate our profits to AWIS (Association for Women in Science) because working on this calendar reminded us how painfully underrepresented is half of the human population in the STEM subjects.