Monday, September 11, 2006

Dog Days

Apologies for my lack of posts lately. No big reason. Some weeks are just less interesting than others and I seem to be in a welcome end-of-summer lull.

Here's the latest thing I drew in my sketchbook, which may or may not have anything to do with future book proposals I may or may not be working on:

Was that vague enough?

I did recently finish a tiny project that I enjoyed very much. Mike Peterson is a journalist and friend I met on the newsgroup rec.arts.comics.strips. His job involves bridging the gap between newspapers and children--for example, developing a series of articles that newspapers can publish while local teachers follow along with related lesson plans. He's also responsible for the "Nellie Bly" series, in which a character named for the famous reporter explains current events to children (often with a thoroughness that educates adults as well) and "Drawing Conclusions," in which he dissects newspaper editorial cartoons for kids.

Anyway, Mike's latest project is a series explaining the science and mythology of the constellations. Although my astronomy pedigree is kind of dusty and rusty--dating back to my university days teaching astronomy labs and running public telescope viewing sessions, plus a weekly astronomy column I wrote waaaaaay back when I was a newspaper reporter--I volunteered to review Mike's drafts to spare him any embarrassment I could. Turns out Mike's a good writer who did his homework and also had a professional astronomer standing by, so I didn't have to do much.

But it was all good, fun stuff ... and also very important, I think. I worked for an astronomy professor who opened the first class of every quarter by pointing out how everyone pays obssessive attention to the half of the universe below eye level, but knows almost nothing about the half of the universe above. If you don't understand what's going on in the sky, he said, you're missing out on half of life. I don't know if that's actually profound, but it stayed with me. In addition, anything that impresses upon a young brain the notion that the universe has a lot of interesting questions awaiting even more interesting answers is enormously worthwhile. I can barely imagine a higher calling.


ronnie said...

Oh my God... I hope I maybe suspect what you're up to.

But I'm gonna follow up by email.

Mike said...

Thanks for the props, Brian. The teaching guide you helped with isn't posted as of this morning, but soon will be -- however, there's lots of other stuff people can see at

Teaching guide should be up in a day or two, since the series starts next week in Glens Falls, NY, and Allentown, PA. And coming soon to a newspaper near you, I hope. I was way over my head with the astronomy portion of this -- I genuinely couldn't have done it without you and Sherwood.