guest review by KuangHua Guo, MD/PhD candidate, Northwestern University, Chicago
Neurocomic by Matteo Farinella and Hana Ros plays out like a tug-of-war between storytelling and a neuroscience lecture. Farinella and Ros chose to cover far too much ground in the realm of neuroscience and left themselves with not enough panels to explain the science or to tell a story.
Here are the points they won:
- Explaining the brain through the history of neuroscience research: Taking the reader through the seminal discoveries that clarified the structure and function of the brain is a good way to help the reader understand something so complex.
- Beautiful analogies: The analogies that the authors chose to represent different concepts, such as trees for neurons, were both intuitive and beautifully drawn. The analogies made it possible condense very complex concepts into just a few panels.
- Accurate representations of neural structures.
- Accurate explanations of many fundamental concepts in neuroscience.
- Imagination: Many of the scenes inside the neuron are very interesting and helps create an “Alice in Wonderland” type of world that the reader can spend hours exploring with his or her imagination.
These are the points they missed:
- No character development: Many characters simply disappear after a few panels. They don’t really add to the explanation of the science, besides allowing the reader to associate a scientist’s name to some neuroscience concept. The main character is completely unfazed by all the science he is learning. It makes the reader wonder why he or she should really care about learning the science.
- No plot development: The main character gets dragged through a whirlwind ride through the brain, yet nothing happens. He ends up at the exact same point he started, asking the pretty girl out on a date.
- Jarring transitions: Panels of science are suddenly intersected by the main character’s exploits, giving the reader no time to digest the science.
- Shallow exploration of the science: Many of the neuroscience concepts were only touched on briefly and missed some very important details.
Overall, Farinella and Ros made a well thought out effort at explaining the brain. However, they bit off much more than they could chew in 136 pages. It would be interesting to see what they can achieve in a serialized comic where they can take time to explore each neuroscience concept in detail.