Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pomp, Circumstance & Pride

That title sounds like a Jane Austen novel.

It's graduation season, the days of droning speeches no one will remember telling young people flattering lies about how much the world eagerly awaits them. I still remember the disappointment of learning otherwise, my cockiness hitting indifferent reality like a rocket sled blasting into a concrete slab. "But . . . but I have a degree!" Ha ha ha ha ha! Sometimes I slay me.

Still, it's a good excuse to share some relevant videos. First up is cartoonist Mike Peters, speaking to the 2012 graduates of his alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. There was some furor when the university invited Mike to speak. Some students evidently thought they deserved better than a Pulitzer Prize winner. They didn't know Mike.

I don't know Mike either, but I have met him and had the great pleasure of seeing him speak at the San Diego Comic-Con a few years ago. Moderated by writer Mark Evanier, who had the grace to ask a few questions and then stay out of the way, that panel was one of the funniest one-man acts I've ever seen. Mike is effervescent, and appears to be the same off stage as on.  He's a bit less frenetic in this video than he was in San Diego but tells some of the same stories, and I enjoyed it a lot. If you ever get a chance to see him speak in person, I guarantee a good time.

Next, a more reflective and sober (though still witty) commencement speech by writer Neil Gaiman that I think holds great wisdom, especially for anyone interested in a creative vocation. Gaiman and Peters come around to similar points, which is to figure out what you love and then go do it. Somehow.

Honestly, I've always thought that Joseph Campbell's admonition to "Follow Your Bliss" was facile, crummy advice. It strikes me as one of those things that's very easy to say after you've followed your bliss, gotten lucky and succeeded, but is cruelly patronizing to those who wanted or tried to follow their bliss but were stymied by very real responsibilities. Or bad luck. Or failure. Not everybody makes it no matter how hard they try; you only hear inspirational speeches from the ones who do. We can't all be astronauts and rock stars. But I really like Gaiman's metaphor of viewing your goal as a mountain, and weighing choices based on whether they move you toward or away from the summit. That's not a bad blueprint for managing a life, I think.

Plus he's British, so anything he says sounds smart.

Finally, because my daughter Robin grudgingly allows it, here's a video of her receiving her masters degree a couple of weeks ago. What's nice about this is that her Anthropology department (under which Archaeology falls) decided at the last minute to hold its own commencement separate from, but concurrent with, the larger school ceremony in the football stadium. The result was a nice intimate ceremony in a packed theater with 40 undergrads and five or six masters candidates, combined with the general excitement and hubbub of a schoolwide celebration. It was a pretty great day.

Now get out in that big wide world, which isn't impressed by and doesn't care about you in the least, and make a difference! Yay!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

You'll Let Nobody Wait Outside Your Door

The Golden Gate Bridge is 75 years old this weekend. I live about an hour away, cross it all the time, and have yet to take it for granted once. I love that bridge. I can't believe humans built it. It's the purest expression of form following function I know, with just enough Art Deco styling to testify that it couldn't have been built anywhen else. Literally every time I drive across it, no matter what else is on my mind, just the fact that it exists lifts my spirits.

I've also noticed that our local landmark has taken an awful beating in movies over the years. Perhaps only the Empire State Building has suffered more (I hear they're still cleaning up after that giant ape). It's gotten to where, when Karen and I see a science fiction or superhero scene set in San Francisco, we place bets on how long it'll take them to gettting around to destroying the bridge. You haven't noticed? Your honor, I present Exhibit A:

Happy Birthday, Bridge. You never fail to impress.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hobnobbing with My Fellow Wizards

I had a nice time last night meeting up with a group of local cartoonists (and one who drove more than an hour) to get to know each other, share our work and talk shop. It's the first time I've really done that in a semi-organized fashion, and I think it'd be fun and useful to do it again.

My pal Lex Fajardo herded us up. In addition to his personal creative outlet of "Kid Beowulf," Lex works for Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, the company that oversees the "Peanuts" empire, so was able to arrange us an after-hours conference room at Mr. Schulz's old studio. Which for me is kind of like holding your church bake sale in the Sistine Chapel. You look around in awe and wallow in your unworthiness.

Seven of us showed up, representing a wide range of experience, from often-published to self-published to just getting going. At the experienced end were Vanessa Davis, whose book Make Me a Woman is charming and terrific, and her significant other Trevor Alixopulos, whose book The Hot Breath of War won an Ignatz Award and is a smart and passionate piece of work. I'm a fan of both and fear I gushed. If they see this, I'm sorry; I'm usually less gushy.

Also there were cartoonist/artist/teacher Gabby Gamboa, cartoonist/colorist/digital media maven Nina Kester (who until recently also worked for Creative Associates), and cartoonist/designer/consultant Karl Dotter, who's the one who drove too far.

That's a lot of slashes.

What often happens when I talk to cartoonists is I rediscover what a small universe it is. Everybody knows everybody else. You're one or two degrees of separation from anyone in the business. So when you sit around telling stories, you not only learn from the person across the table but from the good and bad experiences of everyone they know--who sometimes turn out to be people you know, too.

I was also struck by how few people really earn a living at this. Even popular, influential, critically acclaimed comics creators (friends and friends-of-friends), some whose names surprise me, need day jobs to pay the bills. As I said last night, I find that both inspiring and depressing: inspiring to learn that even the best struggle and flounder; depressing that comics just seems to be an inordinately difficult field to succeed in. We're all in the same boat, but it's a tiny boat with a lot of leaks.

Thanks to everyone for showing up and sharing, and thanks to Lex for arranging it. I expected to be there a couple of hours and stayed for four. I'd love to do it again sometime, especially now that we're past the awkward "getting to know you" phase. I don't have enough people in my life who get passionate about a new brush-pen.

Monday, May 21, 2012


My slice of the world experienced a partial solar eclipse yesterday, and it was pretty neat. If I'd traveled a couple hundred miles northeastish I could've seen a full annular eclipse, which you might recall is when the Moon is a bit too distant to completely cover the Sun but instead leaves a "ring of fire" circle of sunlight around the lunar shadow. Or I could experience a 91% eclipse at home. Tough choice.

Although my house is blanketed in shadows in the late afternoon, our across-the-street neighbors Larry and Mary had a perfect view. Larry and Mary are about the best neighbors ever. I wouldn't ask them to help me bury a body, since they're both former FBI, but anything short of that I'm confident they'd have our backs. They didn't bat an eye when Karen called yesterday to inform them we were having an Eclipse Party in their front yard and they were welcome to come. They pulled out their lawn furniture, we grilled some chicken-apple sausages, everybody brought wine.

California Eclipse Party essentials: grilled sausage, potato salad, cherries, grapes, cheese, crackers, olives and other pickled things, red and white wine. Sun optional.

I chose wisely.

I also took a few minutes to whip up a couple of "solar telescopes." The first was simplicity itself: a flat mirror covered in foil with a dime-size hole cut in it, which I propped up to reflect an image of the crescent Sun onto a poster board leaning against a tree 15 or 20 feet away:

The foil-covered mirror. Note the box it's leaning on, I'll get to that in a minute. Sunlight reflecting off the small center hole cut into the foil reflected across the yard onto...
...white poster board, which made it very easy to sit nearby and watch the eclipse happen LIVE without actually staring stupidly into the Sun.
The second telescope was that empty box above, which I taped up and then cut holes into its opposite ends. One end I covered with a sheet of foil through which I poked pinholes. At the other end I taped a sheet of white paper to serve as a rear-projection screen.

The back end of my pinhole telescope, showing four tiny crescent Suns (because I poked four holes in the other end of the box) back-projected onto a sheet of regular paper.

But in truth we hardly needed my telescopes at all because the best optics of the eclipse were provided by the two tall trees in my neighbors' yard, whose leaves formed thousands of tiny pinhole lenses that projected perfect little crescent Suns onto their home's siding:

We just sat there and watched the wall.
As you can see in the photos, even with the Sun 91% covered it never got dark. It definitely got darker, with the light and shadows taking on a quality I can only describe as eerie, but someone unaware of the eclipse probably wouldn't have noticed at all.

Then when the Sun went down and it got windy and cold, I picked up my telescopes and went home. Perfect.

I might've felt more urgency to witness the full annular eclipse if I hadn't already had the ultimate total eclipse experience on February 26, 1979. That one covered the Sun completely and swept across the Pacific Northwest; I was in my freshman year of college and determined to see it. At the same time, I had a friend who was a big train buff. Ed knew all about their history, routes, lines, station architecture, everything. He theorized that we could board Amtrak's northbound Coast Starlight holding a cheap ticket to the very next station and then ... just not get off. Move around, avoid conductors, act casual. He was sure it would work, and the very worst that would happen if we were discovered is we'd get kicked off.

And I'll be darned: it worked.

(Important note: I do not advocate illegal activity. Do not try this. But if you do, let me know if it still works.)

After a long night huddled in the observation car, we (our merry band of adventurers had grown to five) detrained in Portland, Oregon, which on February 26, 1979 turned out to be the only spot in the Northwest completely covered in clouds. We nevertheless rose early the next day to find a bluff overlooking the Willamatte River to watch the Sun disappear.

Even though we couldn't see the Sun through the clouds, even though we understood precisely what was happening, it was one of the most remarkable, chilling experiences of my life. As the still of sudden nighttime swept across Portland like God drawing a curtain--as the birds stopped chirping and the streetlights blinked on below us--I knew deep in my gut why my ancestors were so terrified they prayed to the giant sky dragon to disgorge the Sun and set things right. Every biochemical cycle in my body that evolved through millions of years of days and nights, moonrises and moonsets, seasons and years, down to the cellular level, screamed out "This is wrong!" It was frightening, exhilarating, and disturbingly weird.

The coda to the story is that we successfully used our train-hopping trick to return home. The funny part is that we saw all the same people in the observation car going south as we had going north. The train both ways was full of freeloaders who'd had the same idea.

* * *

One other related tale that taught me something about people: when I was in college majoring in Physics, I worked as an astronomy laboratory teaching assistant. It's unusual for undergrads to TA, but at the time Astronomy was such a tiny backwater at my university that none of the Physics grad students wanted to do it (that has since changed, and I'm proud to say my alma mater now has a world-class Cosmology program. But it didn't when I was there.)

So I was TAing Introductory Astronomy when a student came to see me during office hours. Several weeks into the class, she needed some help understanding eclipses. No problem, that's why I'm there! We worked on it a long time, with me drawing every diagram of the Earth, Sun and Moon I could think of, and it just wasn't clicking for her. Nothing I did could erase the sad, puzzled look from her face. I began to think I was the worst TA ever. And then, after maybe 20 minutes, she lit up.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Do you mean that the Sun is farther away than the Moon?"

That was the problem. She couldn't understand why the Sun and Moon never ran into each other.

That's when I had my own epiphany: there are enormous numbers of people who aren't necessarily stupid--after all, this girl was smart enough to get into a good university--but simply have no idea, even in the broadest conceivable terms, how the universe around them works. They probably get through life just fine. But to look up into the sky and never ask "What is that? How does it do that?" I can't imagine living a life like that. (To that student's credit, she did take an astronomy class, which is more than most of her peers did.)

Sometimes I like to think my work as both a science writer and graphic novelist is a tiny antidote.

* * *

Speaking of higher education, last weekend my daughter Robin earned her Masters Degree in Archaeology, and Karen and I couldn't be prouder. She wrote an impressive thesis and has already done some good work in the field and lab, and we're confident she has the skills and contacts to make a go of it. She worked very hard and we're very happy for her. Congratulations, Sweetie!

Rather than embarrass Robin by posting the traditional posed snapshot, which would mortify her, I thought I'd use this one showing her Master's hood and floppy-sleeved gown. I just noticed as I uploaded this photo that I unthinkingly labeled it "Robin Hood." Somehow we went 24 years without making that joke.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Longing for the Tomorrow That Never Came."

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, author, director of the Hayden Planetarium, and the public face of contemporary astronomy. He's often called this generation's Carl Sagan, which I'm not sure is accurate or fair to either man, but it's close enough (in fact, Tyson is currently updating Sagan's classic television series "Cosmos"). If you've seen a scientist talking about space anytime in the past five years--whether testifying before Congress or bantering on "The Daily Show"--chances are it was Tyson.

So imagine my happiness at receiving this quote from Dr. Tyson to put on the cover of the forthcoming paperback WHTTWOT:

“In Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, graphic novelist Brian Fies spins a multidecade, cross-generational story that leaves us all longing for the tomorrow that never came. And he does so with a persistent honesty about geopolitical forces and the prevailing culture in which these unrealized dreams were embedded. The book may appeal to kids, but it’s the adults in charge who need heed its messages.”

How 'bout that?

The blue excerpt is going on the front cover and the full quote on the back. This sort of testimonial is a "blurb," generally solicited from the most impressive people you can convince to read your book, and Dr. Tyson was at the top of our dream list. He very graciously came through for us. I don't want to overstate the importance of one blurb--who really buys a book because someone they've heard of liked it?--but to the extent it might influence a reader to pick up WHTTWOT, we couldn't have hoped for better.

Not convinced? Watch this video, which compiles a few of Dr. Tyson's public remarks, then try to argue he wasn't the perfect man for the job. Many thanks to him, and to Editor Charlie for making it happen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Creating a Cover

Settle in. This is a long one.

Making a book cover is a unique, challenging part of the publishing process. Different writers with different publishers have more or less frustrating stories than mine. I know of some writers who designed their own covers with little trouble at all, and others who had the decision taken entirely out of their hands and wound up with covers that misrepresented their stories and torpedoed any hopes of success.

My experience designing covers with Abrams for Mom's Cancer, the hardcover Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorow, and now the paperback WHTTWOT, falls toward the more happy, collaborative end of that spectrum (I blogged about the Mom's Cancer cover in 2006). However, it's a different type of collaboration than any other part of the publishing process. What happens on the inside of the book is a conversation primarily between my editor, Charlie Kochman, and me. In contrast, deciding what happens on the outside of the book involves many, many people, some of whom may not have even read it.

That's because (and what follows is purely my interpretation and opinion, not anything authoritative from Abrams) a cover's primary role is marketing rather than editorial. That's a keen distinction. A book's cover is the lure that teases a potential customer to pick it up. Secondarily, it's a statement about the publisher itself: "We make books that look like this." Corporate identity. Neither of these roles is something an author is necessarily attuned to or skilled at. Which is why, in addition to me and Editor Charlie, cover design involves graphic designers, art directors, marketers, publicists, and a whole committee of decision makers up to Abrams publisher Michael Jacobs.

On paper, I believe my contracts give Abrams the right to cover my books however they want. In practice, Editor Charlie promised that he'd never put a cover on my book I didn't like. He's as good as his word and so far we're three-for-three, although I've sometimes needed persuading. As a graphic novelist, I do have a small bit of leverage: if a cover idea requires any new art, they need me to draw it!

With that, I thought I'd describe some of what went into making the new paperback cover for WHTTWOT for all six of my readers who like peek-behind-the-curtain posts. It was a back-and-forth process over several weeks that involved me, Editor Charlie, Abrams Designer Sara Edward Corbett, and Abrams Art Director Chad Beckerman.

As I composed this post, I decided it wouldn't be fair to include sketches I received from Sara and Chad. Their work was part of a collaborative brainstorming process, some of which was pretty rough, and I don't think it's right to publish it. They should feel free to do their jobs without worrying whether some yahoo writer is going to post it on his blog months later. Rather, I'll just show sketches I did, with the understanding that ideas were flowing both directions and many of the concepts below stemmed directly from Sara's, Chad's and Charlie's contributions.

Idea Zero: make the paperback look just like the hardcover. Of course we couldn't do the die-cut paper "belly band" that wrapped around the hardcover, but Charlie and I were both impressed by how WHTTWOT's German publisher handled the hardcover, adding a glossy varnish over the top "futuristic" half of the image and giving the bottom half a matte finish:

The German Edition: No die-cut belly band, shiny on the top, dull on the bottom. The title means, "And We Dreamed of the Future," which I liked maybe better than "Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?" Wish I'd thought of it.

So here's my first take, making the front look basically the same and flopping the futuristic tableau, which appeared under the belly band of the original, onto the back:

Even as I did it, I knew this idea was dead on arrival. The honest reason: the hardcover was not a big seller. Oh, I guess it sold all right, it wasn't a humiliating embarrassment, but it really didn't do as well as Abrams and I hoped and thought it might. Consequently, one big goal for the paperback is to attract readers who maybe didn't notice it, or didn't like what they noticed, before. Ergo, new cover.

Now the fun starts.

I argued strongly that whatever else the cover contained, it had to show the characters--either Cap Crater and the Cosmic Kid, or Pop and Buddy. I felt that it was important to emphasize their relationship--to say WHTTWOT is a story about these people as much as the evolving technology of the times. The first several rounds of cover design incorporated that element.

As we worked, Editor Charlie and I shared a concern that the cover not look too juvenile. It's a comic, yes, but not a children's book. That's a narrow tightrope to tread. I think we both felt this direction fell on the wrong side.

At the same time, I was trying to find some inspiration among paperback covers of the 1940s and '50s, examples of which abound online. That line of thinking led to this:

Classic Futura font and "torn paper" styling, with the color palette taken from the key colors from different chapters. Editor Charlie's main concern: it's not particularly attractive and doesn't read at all when reduced or seen from a distance. He was right. 

Meanwhile, Sara was offering her own take on retro styling, which led to concepts like these:

This wouldn't have been a cover by itself, but it influenced many ideas that used its circle "target" motif. I really liked this; in fact, I made myself a little pin-back button using this graphic.
Sara also came up with the "sunburst" element that we played with a lot.
Still trying to work in the characters. Also trying to capture the idea that the book dealt with both the comic-book pop-culture World of Tomorrow and the actual World of Tomorrow as realized by the Hubble Space Telescope photo in the background.

I liked the nested and overlapping circles in this composition. Epicycles. 
We also played with different colors of type (often in the same font as the hardcover to connect the books together) and different blends of art, graphics and photography. We quickly concluded that photos of my spaceship model weren't working.

Pretty far into the process, I decided I was wrong about needing the characters on the cover. We were already trying to convey a lot of information; characters just made the cover look cluttered and, again, juvenile. I think I may have dismayed Editor Charlie after championing the characters so enthusiastically and then changing my mind, but I really came to believe that the simpler and more iconic we made the cover, the better:

I loved this idea, which I'm proud to say was entirely mine: a close-up of the uniform of the Cosmic Kid. I took photos of sweaters of mine with different textures, and composited and colored them in Photoshop. Love the snags. Charlie liked it a lot. Others were concerned it communicated nothing about the book's theme or contents. It doesn't even hint that it's a comic. They were right. But if the decision were completely up to me, I might have gone with this.

I may have been particularly frustrated the day I thought, "Fine, if they want to make sure everybody knows it's a comic book, let's just make it look like a gosh-darned comic book!" (I probably used language stronger than "gosh-darned" inside my head.) Hence:

Note that the blurb up top from Neil Armstrong, "I cried like a little baby," was a made-up placeholder. Sadly. Because that would be the best blurb ever. I really liked this concept but it didn't get any traction.

Sometime in the middle of this process, my family and I took a vacation to Disneyland, where I saw a t-shirt in Tomorrowland and thought, "Hey, that'd make a great book cover!" The inspiration seemed entirely appropriate to me, since WHTTWOT pegs Walt Disney as one of the influential public figures who not only portrayed the World of Tomorrow but helped shape it. Also because a little piece of Tomorrowland actually makes a secret appearance in the book. I bought the shirt (tax write-off!) and came home to do a couple dozen variations on the theme:

The t-shirt

Different colors, graphics, types, etc., pulling together many of the elements we'd developed thus far.

The idea was to make this cover look artificially old and pulpy, like the comic book pages within. The concern: potential readers glancing at it on the shelf would think it was actually old and pulpy

I think a minor epiphany occurred when Sara did a sketch in which she wrapped my futuristic graphic cityscape, which appears in the background of the last sample above and comprised the back cover of the hardcover edition, around both front and back covers. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me that seemed to shake everything loose and reassemble it in a way that made perfect sense and looked perfectly right. Combining that with the other components we'd been working with gave us a semi-final cover that looks like this:

What this image doesn't show is that the cover will be printed on silver foil so it'll be shiny, particularly in spots like the spaceship windows and the Trylon and Perisphere. It's going to be very, very nifty.

One insight Charlie and I have discussed many times is that when a cover is finally right, you can't imagine it looking like anything else. It is what it was meant to be. You're all welcome to disagree, but I think Charlie, Chad, Sara, the Cover Committee and I achieved that here. I'm happy with it, proud of it, and can't imagine a better lure to draw in a potential reader.

Except this. Sadly, they didn't go for it, either.

Friday, May 11, 2012


In the past week or so, I've had three different people tell me they like reading my blog because it's interesting and funny.

I don't need that kind of pressure.

To give you a break from that high-quality reading experience, I'll shamelessly flog a couple of things.

First up is my publisher Abrams Books' catalog for Fall 2012, which features a full-page ad for the paperback edition of Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow. For those disinclined to click on the link and find Page 10, here's how it looks:

I'm sincerely touched that Editor Charlie and everyone at Abrams had enough faith in WHTTWOT to not only put it out in paperback in the first place, but to dedicate a full page of the catalog to it. They didn't have to do either. I expect I'll have more to say about how the paperback happened and why/how we redesigned the cover in future posts.

Speaking of the cover, that's not the final version of it above. It's close, but the catalog had to go to press before we were done designing it. In fact, Editor Charlie just e-mailed me a photo of the new cover's proof (the first one off the printing press to check for print quality and errors) and I couldn't be happier. Two words: "silver foil." It's gonna look fantastic!

Second, a listing for my contribution to the Team Cul de Sac book to help fund Parkinson's Disease research is now live on the Heritage Auction website. Inspired by "Cul de Sac" comic strip creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson's, Chris Sparks gathered artwork from dozens of cartoonists who interpreted Richard's characters in their own styles. In addition, the original art for the book will be auctioned beginning May 27 to raise more money for the cause.

My listing is just below "Calvin & Hobbes" creator's Bill Watterson's. I wish such close proximity somehow reflected the quality of my work, but it appears to be an accidental consequence of "Brian" following "Bill" alphabetically. I'll still take it.

You'll also note that Heritage hasn't posted an image of my drawing (or many others) yet. They're adding them a few at a time. Luckily, you've already seen it. I will be closely watching the auction and am prepared to make a generous face-saving bid on my own page just in case nobody else does. It'll be for two good causes: Parkinson's research and my pride.

If nothing else, please consider buying the book. It's a righteous deed. Plus, as my friend Mike Peterson pointed out, think about what a great autograph album it'd make as you hunt down all the cartoonists who contributed to it. Good luck with Watterson (or as I call him, "Bill").

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Avengers Assemble!

I saw "The Avengers" today. As demonstrated by this blog post (which has gotten a TON of hits the past couple of weeks), I am the world's foremost self-declared authority on The Avengers circa 1963-1985. My opinion should carry great weight with you. And that opinion is...I loved it unreservedly.

The film answered every concern and fulfilled every hope I expressed in that post. Great balance of character development, action, pathos, humor. Every character had a chance to shine. I literally can't think of a single thing I'd've done differently. I'm calling it now: best superhero film ever. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but it's truly the best time I've had at the movies in forever.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bossy Cow Cow *

Today I return to my alma mater to speak to Physics students as part of a weekly career seminar. I did this once before and really enjoy it because I think I provide an atypical example of an undistinguished student (hey, I was distracted; is it possible to graduate with dishonors?) who nevertheless infused Physics throughout my entire career and life.

I think if you do it right, science is less a body of knowledge than a philosophy of life. I know an astronomer who believes in astrology and a chemist who believes in creationism. As Mark Twain said of women swearing, "They know the words but not the music." I've forgotten a lot of the words but can't stop humming the tune.

* Today's post title is taken from my school's unofficial fight song, which Google tells me Sports Illustrated voted the "Most Obtuse College Cheer" in 1997. The complete lyrics:

Bossy Cow Cow
Honey Bee Bee
Oleo Margarine
Oleo Butterine
Alfalfa, Hay!!!

Imagine my pride.

UPDATE: It went great! A good group of about two dozen, then lunch afterward with two profs: the one who invited me to his seminar plus my old college mentor. My host graciously bought my meal. As I joked to him, after paying my own tuition as well as my two girls' to the same institution, having the university buy me a sandwich felt like balancing the scales just a little.

Funny: While I spoke there were a couple of young lady physicists in the back of the room gazing into a laptop. I wondered then if they were looking me up online; toward the end of my talk when I got around to comics they kind of lit up, like "yep, that's the guy." And this blog's visitor counter shows a hit from just the right place at just the right time. Caught 'em!

Anyway, great students with good questions whom I hope I both informed and entertained. Infotained. I swear, being back on my college campus on a beautiful spring day whisks 25 years away. Thanks to all for a fun day.