Marine biologist brings ‘toons’ to library talk


As part of the La Jolla Library’s Citizen Science lecture series, Sept. 4, Ph.D. candidate Garfield Kwan from Scripps Institution of Oceanography spoke about a study in which he was a junior scientist looking at squid embryos and what ocean conditions affect their growth and how. But in addition to the talk, he shared the unique way he relays complex and often lengthy concepts.

“Studies are published in these giant, dense manuscripts. I fall asleep reading them,” Kwan told those gathered. So enter Squidtoons, his passion project. Squidtoons are comic book-style literature filled with pictorial pages detailing the metabolic processes of the Osedax, a bone-eating worm; the biology of shellfish and more.

“I try to make an entire manuscript into a comic that is more visually appealing and easier to read and get something out of. That manuscript needs to exist so scientists can pull from it, but everyone does not need to read it. They can read this instead. I want to take these papers and make them easier to understand,” he said.

‘Squidtoons’ uses comic book-style illustrations to explain scientific concepts.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Squid Toons are available for sale online on outlets such as Amazon.

— The next Citizen Science speaker will be cosmologist and author Brian Keating, who will share reflections from his book, “Losing the Nobel Prize,” 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the library, 7555 Draper Ave. Details at