cover image Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction

Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction

Grady Klein and Danny Oppenheimer. Norton, $18.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-35195-8

This peppy overview of psychological science follows the now-familiar educational comics format of snappy explanatory text interspersed with cartoon commentary. A colorful cast of unnamed characters—two lab-coated scientists, a bickering couple, some cavepeople, a gorilla—acts out the concepts in the text, adding gags, observations, and explanations. Sometimes the visuals clarify the material: linked memories, for example, are easy to understand as a chain of beads hooked together by busy cartoon workers. Other times, the illustrations simply provide humorous commentary. Oppenheimer, a Carnegie Mellon professor, wisely sticks to examples from contemporary research rather than getting too mired in history or minutiae, though his material sometimes tends a little too much toward pop-psych fluff. Still, he and artist Klein, a veteran of cartoon science guides as well as the creator of the beautiful Lost Colony graphic novels, cover an impressive swath of territory, including the mechanics of thought, the development of language, and the way society forces all our uniquely complicated minds to work together. The book confidently fulfills the purpose stated in its title. (Dec.)