Writings on the SeaWall: Squidtoons

As science communicators, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to translate the ramblings of the ivory tower into a relatable and accessible public dialogue. In my experience, our strongest ally in this endeavor lies in the artists, musicians, and storytellers within our communities. “The Writing on the Sea-Wall” series seeks to highlight the skilled, artisans and projects that help us in our ongoing mission to connect people to science through tangible and impacting messages.

Everyone gets into science communication for different reasons, but to date this might be my favorite:

“Some senators were being dicks and criticizing physiology science as wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.”

Garfield Kwan, of the dynamic duo behind the ocean comic Squidtoons, was working in a physiology lab at the time when Senator Tom Coburn’s scaling 2011 critique of “wasteful” NSF funding was released. Little did the Senator know that putting on blast the epic physiological research that involved running shrimp on treadmills would inspire Kwan to explore connecting a larger audience to science in his own unique way.

Thus, Squidtoons was born. In collaboration with scientific illustrator Dana Song, Squidtoons is an ocean comic dedicated to translating scientific research into engaging infographics to educate the pubic about science, provide educators with teaching tools, and support scientists with compelling illustrations. Infused with a significant dose of humor and pop culture, each comic is the product of an extensive amount of research and expert scientific review. The illustrations are as accurate as they are dazzling. We here at DSN were fans of Squidtoons before it was cool.

This year Kwan and Song expanded their inky, scicom-ic empire by publishing their first ever Squidtoons book “illustrating science with farts, burps, and giggles.” Containing 120 pages of the Squidtoons “best of” playlist, the book is a fun romp for both kids and adults alike. Garfield reflects on his hopes for the book, “Squidtoons has the potential to be a great outreach tool for researchers around the world, as well as a great platform for the public to understand science by researchers from around the world.”

Get yours today just in time to dazzle your relatives for the holidays with all of your ocean science nerd jokes- courtesy of Squidtoons!

Alex Warneke (111 Posts)

Alex currently resides as a Science Communicator for the National Park Service, where she inspires thousands a year to love the watery world. Alex earned her Masters degree in chemical ecology from San Diego State University investigating the effects of heavy metal pollutants on the chemical communication between organisms. In her “free time,” Alex enjoys convincing the public that Ecology is indeed sexy. With that goal, she is a strong proponent of unconventional science communication and extending the broader impacts of science to the general public using the outlets of film and social media. When she is not busy busting a move or filming her next rap video, she can normally be found frolicking through the California kelp forest.

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