cover image Neurocomic: A Comic About the Brain

Neurocomic: A Comic About the Brain

Hana Roš and Matteo Farinella. Nobrow, $17.99 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-913123-08-6

Neuroscientist Roš debuts with a trippy graphic novel primer on how the brain works. An unnamed protagonist is lifted off the page and into what appears a strange woodland. There, he encounters neuroscience pioneer Santiago Ramón y Cajal who explains this forest is “not trees. They are neurons.” In often abrupt, sometimes absurd transitions, the main character clips through scenes where scientists explain aspects of the brain: Charles Scott Sherrington details synapses, bizarre creatures illuminate the workings of neurotransmitters and drugs, Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley discuss brain electricity aboard a submarine, and Eric Kandel describes memory and plasticity. The question of who is in charge of the brain leads to a philosophical discussion about the mystery of consciousness, and an epilogue gets into a meta-discussion of how the brain processes reading a comic. Farinella employs distinctive but cartoony character drawings, and scenarios thick with weirdness and surreal elements are balanced by typical scientific illustrations and symbols (maps, keys). It’s a breezy explainer that balances both precise details and broad strokes, and will appeal to folks who enjoy a Larry Gonick–style approach to a complex topic. (Sept.)