GRAPHIC NOVELS

Department of Mind-Blowing Theories

Drawn & Quarterly. Apr. 2020. 160p. ISBN 9781770463752. $21.95. Rated: Teen+. science
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British cartoonist Gauld (Baking with Kafka) celebrates and lampoons the agony and ecstasy that accompany a life devoted to scientific research in this collection of 150 strips, which originally ran as a weekly feature in New Scientist. In “Suggested Methods of Presenting Findings,” he pitches far-out approaches such as “a Broadway musical” and “an internet meme involving cats.” Another strip depicts two researchers at the bottom of a deep pit deciding not to dig any further, unaware that a vast trove of ancient artifacts lay mere inches below their feet. When he’s not speaking directly to scientists, Gauld presents absurd situations with a bone-dry delivery reminiscent of The Far Side. Standouts in this vein include a strip featuring two insects trapped in blobs of amber catching each other up on how they’ve been keeping themselves busy for the last 48 million years, and a look at the inner monolog of a dog philosopher considering what it really means to be “a good boy.”
VERDICT Gauld’s intelligence and wit permeate every page of this clever volume.

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