April 2010

Molecular Manga


MangaWhile PHD Comics and other strips use illustration to poke a little fun at the world of science, comics also can be a powerful tool to help teach science, turning complex scientific terms and concepts into visual forms. That is the idea taken up by No Starch Press, a publishing company dedicated to, as it says, the finest in geek entertaincment.

Founded in 1994, No Starch Press has primarily dedicated itself to computing, publishing numerous books that combine understandable explanations of complex terminology with personality, attitude and style.

Recently, though, it has taken its unique approach of instruction to the realm of science, with the help of manga— Japanese-style comics that are gaining popularity in Western culture, especially among younger readers. These illustrated tutorials have tackled subjects like calculus, statistics, physics and molecular biology.

The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology follows the exploits of Rin and Ami, who, as a result of skipping their molecular biology class all semester, are sentenced to summer school on Professor Moro’s private island. Once there, Moro, his assistant Marcus and a special virtual-reality machine give the schoolgirls an up-close and personal tour of molecular biology in action.

Written by Masaharu Takemura, a lecturer at the Tokyo University of Science who has written several books about biology, The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology explores transcription, translation, mitosis, organelle function and even the new advances in genetic engineering— as told in an engaging, visual and story-driven format.

Learn more about The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology here.

Nick Zagorski (nzagorski@asbmb.org) is a science writer at ASBMB.

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