cover image Dignifying Science: Stories about Women Scientists

Dignifying Science: Stories about Women Scientists

Jim Ottaviani. G.T. Labs, $16.95 (142pp) ISBN 978-0-9660106-1-9

A collection of women-drawn comics profiling women scientists should be a great way to celebrate unknown and underappreciated female professionals and inspire young women to go into the scientific fields. But this collection almost entirely misses the mark, failing to tell clear, interesting stories or to impart much useful information about the remarkable scientists it covers. The fault lies in Ottaviani's writing and organization, not in the skillfully executed black and white illustrations. The profiles--of Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Marie Skladovska, Hedy Lamarr (yes, the actress) and Birute Galdikas--unfold almost entirely through dialogue. Secondary figures are introduced without historical context or explanation of their relationship to the main character. Even the unusual profile of movie star/inventor Lamarr is bewildering (who exactly is Gene Markey?). Ottaviani provides an appendix with panel by panel notes offering historical and biographical context, but the reader will tire of flipping from comics to notes and back again. Both the narrative and notes jump into scientific terminology without sufficient plainspoken explanations. The book leaves one longing for what it originally promised: biographical sketches of significant women's scientific accomplishments in comics form, presented in a manner that the dame on the street can understand. (Jan.)