The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic
The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic is a great idea, but I had some problems with the execution. Learning about geology in comic format seems like a good match, since the science is known for being visual, what with earthquakes and volcanos and such, plus exploded diagrams of the earth’s content.
Unfortunately, the authors — writer Kanani K.M. Lee is a Yale professor of geology and geophysics, while the work of artist Adam Wallenta can be seen at his website — seem to have fallen prey to the idea that comics = superheroes. Instead of concentrating on making the educational material clear and interesting, they’ve dressed it up with a silly and pointless daydream of being a superhero, just to provide the kind of flashy graphics seen on the cover.
George is concerned about his upcoming science test, so he dreams about skateboarding through ancient earth with a robot dog. This is unnecessary and distracting from the actual content, which is fascinating enough. Most of the art is dedicated to drawing George getting to school or these daydreams, with little left for explaining the science in depth. The educational material is dropped in, in large text chunks full of specialized terms. The diagrams are the same standard ones I saw in my grade school textbooks, without thought being given as to how they could be elaborated in a visual format or explained in more memorable fashion.
It looks to me as though the authors fell in love with the concept but didn’t know enough about non-fiction comics to convey the material in the best form for education. Plus, already a slim volume, at 40 pages, the comic only takes up 22 of them. The rest are text pages that explain geology in more depth than the comic could handle.
This thin color comic is flashy and eye-catching, but I found it disappointing. It feels as though the authors felt kids needed to be pandered and talked down to in order to make exciting material entertaining. You can see a preview at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)