Information Design Watch

December 14, 2011, 9:57 am

Game Theory, Starring the Bowerbird

By Henry Woodbury

For some reason I was reading about game theory over on Wikipedia, and followed a link to this:

The Mathematical Cartoons of Larry Gonick / The Bowerbird's Dilemma, panel 1

The Mathematical Cartoons of Larry Gonick / The Bowerbird's Dilemma, panel 2

This is one of the “Mathematical Cartoons” created by Larry Gonick for Discover magazine. There are 11 at the link. Enjoy!

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Comments (1) | Filed under: Comics, Creativity, Illustration

September 21, 2010, 10:34 am

The Simple Power of a Graphic

By Matt DeMeis

Most of us know about the 33 miners trapped underground in Chile. I came across this infographic created by Newsweek about the 3″ diameter bore hole that is keeping them alive.

So simple, but so incredibly powerful. I love this kind of thing. With a line drawing, we are given a true window into the unbelievably claustrophobic situation these men are enduring.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Comics, Creativity, Current Events, Diagrams, Illustration, Infographics, Information Design, Visual Explanation

March 1, 2010, 12:16 pm

Movies in Six Panels

By Lisa Agustin

Movie site Little White Lies has announced the winner of its latest competition, in which readers were asked to condense a favorite film into a six-frame comic strip. The winning entry by David Rigby–a highly-detailed Zombieland (pictured above)–along with other notable submissions (Total Recall, American Psycho, and Adaptation among them) are now available on the Creative Review site.  While it’s fun to compare each result to your own recollection of a particular movie, it’s also interesting to think about what each artist decided to include and, perhaps more important, what to leave out–a key step not only in creating comics, but also diagrams and PowerPoint decks.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Comics

December 15, 2009, 4:00 pm

Masterpiece Comics

By Lisa Agustin

masterpiece-comics-gregor-brown

I am happily perusing an early Christmas present to myself: Masterpiece Comics, a collection of R. Sikoryak’s mash-ups of comic strips and world literature.  Some examples:  Rex Morgan, M.D. + Macbeth = “Macworth.”  Ziggy + Candide = “Candiggy.”  From more recent times, Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead + Waiting for Godot = “Waiting to Go.”   You get the idea.  At first glance, it looks like Sikoryak is simply layering literary plotlines atop uncanny copies of famous cartoons.  But the Masterpiece collection is more than that.  Each classic tale has been carefully matched with a comic that shares its core sensibility, and the clever pairing emphasizes what they have in common, while at the same time creating something new.  In “Good Ol’ Gregor Brown” (above), Gregor Samsa from Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis wakes up as a bug in the Peanuts world of Charles M. Schulz.   Samsa and Charlie Brown are separated by time and place, but the futility and sad humor are the same.  It’s just one of many examples that make you think, “Of course!”  My only disappointment is that this volume is a little on the slim side– only 64 pages– but that’s only because I wish there was more to explore.  Guess I will just have to wait for the next one (“Coming soon! Virgil! Chaucer! Flaubert!”)

See also:

R. Sikoryak’s web site (http://www.rsikoryak.com/index.html)

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Comics, Illustration

November 5, 2009, 12:25 pm

Follow the Necktie

By Henry Woodbury

It is always interesting to me to see how designers using different methods tackle some of the same visualization challenges that we do. How do you represent an abstract idea like “mobility” or “business”?

Here is Virtualization in Plain English, a marketing video for Intel made by Common Craft.

Still from Virtualization in Plain English

Keep track of that necktie.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Comics, Illustration, Information Design, Technology, Visual Explanation

August 20, 2009, 2:10 pm

Election Day

By Henry Woodbury

Afghan Voting Manual: Your Voice Your Vote

Today is polling day in Afghanistan. One document created to aid the process is Your Vote. Your Voice, a 25-page manual that uses graphic novel techniques to teach “adult learners about  issues, candidates, and appraisal of elected officials’ performance.”

It is printed in Dari and Pashto.

(via Boing Boing)

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Books and Articles, Comics, Current Events, Illustration

May 7, 2009, 2:28 pm

Logicomix

By Lisa Agustin

logicomix

Madness! Magic!  Heroic quests!   No, it’s not the latest release from Marvel, but rather Logicomix, a graphic novel on the nature of mathematical truth.  According to the book’s web site:

[Inspired by the epic story of the quest for the Foundations of Mathematics,] this was a heroic intellectual adventure most of whose protagonists paid the price of knowledge with extreme personal suffering and even insanity.  The book tells its tale in an engaging way, at the same time complex and accessible. It grounds the philosophical struggles on the undercurrent of personal emotional turmoil, as well as the momentous historical events and ideological battles which gave rise to them.

Told from the perspective of logician, philosopher, and pacifist Bertrand Russell, the book weaves together the trials and tribulations of thinkers such as Frege and Wittgenstein while exploring topics as diverse as logic, the institution of marriage, and predicate calculus.  The web site is worth a look, particularly its Behind the Scenes section, which includes information on the team’s approach to character research and examples of pages in production.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Books and Articles, Comics

April 21, 2009, 8:27 am

Ban Comic Sans?

By Henry Woodbury

Comic Sans didn’t spring to life on its own from the primordial Windows ooze. Typographer Vincent Connare designed it:

…one afternoon, he opened a test version of a program called Microsoft Bob for children and new computer users. The welcome screen showed a cartoon dog named Rover speaking in a text bubble. The message appeared in the ever-so-sedate Times New Roman font.

Connare went to work on creating an appropriate comic font for Bob. Not long after a Microsoft product manager included his creation as a standard font in Windows and the spread of Comic Sans began. The spread of efforts opposed to it soon followed.

Connare retains a wry appreciation for his most famous work:

“If you love it, you don’t know much about typography,” Mr. Connare says. But, he adds, “if you hate it, you really don’t know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby.”

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Comics, Technology, Typography

March 11, 2009, 8:18 am

Visualization a la Dilbert

By Lisa Agustin

Proof that even Dilbert understands the power of visualization.

dilbert-strip

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Comments (1) | Filed under: Charts and Graphs, Comics

January 21, 2009, 11:31 am

Examples, Symbols, and Signposts

By Henry Woodbury

Comics impresario Scott McCloud takes on the TED conference and delivers an engaging and funny talk titled “Understanding comics.” The title doesn’t do McCloud justice. He’s really talking about vision. And it’s a great presentation.

One reason for that is McCloud’s playfulness. Even as he unpacks his thesis, he tells stories, plugs in cross-references, and puns on his own ideas. When he gets to talking about comics he uses simple, but effective animations and symbols to highlight concepts such as directionality, space, and time.

Ah, but maybe this is too easy. He’s a comic artist, talking about comics, and his examples are comics.

Not true. When McCloud is talking about ideas, he is equally creative. Except for one key sequence, there are almost no words on his slides. Instead, McCloud offers visual references — a picture of Jung when talking about Jung, a sequence of Ray Charles, Albert Einstein, Wernher Von Braun, and Thomas Edison as he describes his father: ”a blind genius rocket scientist inventor.” He also uses simple, but effective symbols such as an eye to symbolize science, “where what we see and can ascertain are the foundation for what we know.”

(hat tip to Garr Reynolds at Presentation Zen)

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Comics, Visual Explanation

December 29, 2008, 9:17 pm

Visualization Takes Its Toll

By Lisa Agustin

Sometimes too much visualization is not a good thing. Just ask xkcd.com.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Charts and Graphs, Comics

December 1, 2008, 9:44 am

The Blogofractal

By Henry Woodbury

The Blogofractal

The text version is good too.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Comics, Visual Explanation

October 22, 2008, 2:47 pm

Manga Sommelier

By Henry Woodbury

Comics are everywhere. From The New York Times Food and Wine section comes this story of a serendipitous intersection of comic talent and love of wine. Four years ago Yubo and Shin Kibayashi created their series “The Drops of the Gods” centered on a young hero named Shizuku Kanzaki:

At the start of the series, Shizuku has rebelled against his father, a famous wine critic, by refusing to drink wine and working instead for a brewery. Suddenly, though, his father dies and leaves in his will a description of 12 wines he considers the world’s best, comparing them to the disciples of Jesus.

Pitted against his adopted brother, who happens to be a sommelier, Shizuku must catch up in his knowledge so he can find the 12 wines mentioned in his father’s will and inherit his father’s vast cellar.

Now the comic has spread beyond Japan to other East Asian countries slowly opening up to alcohol imports:

At Addiction Plus, a trendy Italian restaurant in central Seoul, men in their late 20s to early 40s often ask about wines featured in the comic, said the owner, Kim Chin-ui, 38.

“They won’t mention that they’ve read the comic, though it’s pretty obvious,” Mr. Kim said. “They try to insert terms like ‘terroir’ or ‘marriage’ to show off — normally, to their colleagues or dates.”

“But I don’t think the women are impressed,” Mr. Kim added. “I can tell from their faces. I mean, the women know where the terms are coming from, because they’ve read the same comic.”

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Books and Articles, Comics, Illustration

September 5, 2008, 8:31 am

Google Chrome Comic Overshadows Product?

By Kirsten Robinson

It seems like everyone’s talking about the Google Chrome announcement — yeah, that’s right, the announcement, maybe more so than Chrome itself! In case your network connection has been down the last couple of days, the announcement is in the form of a comic book illustrated by Scott McCLoud, author of Understanding Comics. Here’s a sample:

Google chrome comic original

And, in the “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” department, the spoofers (warning: adult content) weren’t far behind:

Google Chrome comic spoof

Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve read most of a 38-page product announcement in a long time. Although, I would have put the information with broadest appeal first (about the UI) and the developer-focused information last. And a progress indicator (“page 1 of 38″) wouldn’t hurt.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Comics, Current Events, Illustration, Information Design

September 2, 2008, 9:00 am

How-to Comics

By Kirsten Robinson

Ever wondered how to make a pair of stilts or spring-loaded chopsticks? Kim recently discovered a site called Howtoons that illustrates these how-tos and more, in comic form. This is especially interesting to us at Dynamic Diagrams, as we’re currently developing our first comic-inspired web-based training project for one of our clients.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Comics, Illustration

April 4, 2008, 12:18 pm

Forget the Parachutes and Cheese: Meet Johnny Bunko

By Lisa Agustin

Many information architects and designers are familiar with Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, which explains the mechanics of the medium while shedding light on the principles of visual communications. Now comes Daniel Pink’s new book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, a graphic novel that claims to be “The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need.” The book follows the protagonist as he learns the six secrets to a satisfying career, courtesy of a sprite named Diana who can be conjured by splitting a pair of magic chopsticks. (I’m not kidding.) The book is written in the Japanese style of comics called Manga. Why? According to Pink:

Because most career books just plain stink. They’re too long, too boring, and too quickly outdated. Today most people get their tactical career information online — how to write a resume, what questions to ask in an interview, who to use as a reference, etc. What they want in a book, or so people tell me, are what they can’t get from Google. They want strategic lessons — and they want it presented in an accessible, to-the-point way.

It’s an interesting approach, newer in the U.S. than in Japan where, Pink claims, 22% of all printed material is in Manga, covering topics as diverse as “how to help you manage your time, learn about Japanese history, or find a mate.” Will the format work? You decide.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Books and Articles, Comics, Illustration, Information Design, Visual Explanation