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 (112 Posts)

Alex is committed to a life of inspiring others to view science through a more dynamic and empowering lens. Alex obtained her M.Sc. in Chemical Ecology from San Diego State University and most recently resided as a Science Programs Manager and Marine Scientist for the National Park Service. As an ecologist, storyteller, and community engager, she has spanned critical boundaries between stakeholders in education, academia, non-profit, and government to translate the most current scientific bodies of work in ways that are accessible and inclusive. She is a strong proponent of unconventional science communication and extending the broader impacts of science to the public using the outlets of art, digital media, education, and citizen science. Currently, Alex works at the interface of climate resilience and community with the Climate Science Alliance. As Deputy Director for the Alliance, her hope is that through her work and experience she can get the world to think differently about how we connect and impact the thriving ecosystem around us and commit to fostering a more resilient future.

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