Howtoons the Book Launches! Answered
It's been a long journey since I first looked over Saul's shoulder in our shared 4th-floor MIT Media Lab office and saw the proto-sketches that would become Howtoons, but today the book finally launches!
Here's the word directly from Saul:
I along with my co-authors and illustrators, Nick Dragotta and Joost Bonsen are proud to announce that today is the official publication and release of our fully-illustrated, science-meets-adventure-and-mischief comic book, HOWTOONS ! The Possibilities are Endless. I know I personally am nervous, relieved, and all of the other things that a first time author can be.
You can buy the book directly from Amazon
Although all of the authors wish to compel you to walk, run, or ride a bike to your local book store and get one there (or demand that they carry copies!).
We'd like to thank each and everyone on this email list for their moral and other support in the gestation of this exciting project. Thanks for loaning us your children, your ideas, your inspiration and your feedback. Hopefully we are now returning all of them to you in good healthy order and with interest on top!
We'd love to encourage you all to buy hundreds and thousands of copies of this book for all of your favourite 4-94 year olds. The jacket copy says 8-12, but we know that our group of friends have nothing but the most intelligent children (hence extending the age range down to 4) as well as being fundamentally immature and appreciative of fart jokes (hence increasing it to 94).
HOWTOONS seeks to put the joy, the story, the adventure, the free-spirit, the fun, the downright ridiculousness, and the real heroicism of science and engineering back into education. We do this through stories and illustrations designed to show children that science and engineering is not only one of the coolest possible things that you can study, but that it touches upon everything in modern life and can be found in the simple objects around you... One tag line we often like to associate with the book is: "See the world for what it can be, not for what it is." The world is increasingly technical, and many of the greatest challenges of the 21st century will require technically aware people whether they are working on science and engineering themselves, or whether they are the artists, writers, accountants, musicians, lawyers, politicians and educators who make the world a rich and interesting place to live. I believe the magnificent artwork of Nick also highlights that there is a genuine marriage between the arts and sciences and the oft cited tension between the two is un-necessary as both come from a desire to create and share new ideas and ways of representing them.
You can see our new website, including many samples of HOWTOONS and a regularly updated blog at www.howtoons.com. We'd like to send an especially big thanks and shout out to Ryan McKinley for help with the website (if you don't know him you should! He's a programming powerhouse), and of course also to Phil Torrone, everyone's favourite blogger and DIY mastermind. We'd also love to thank all of the people at O'Reilly media, especially Dale Dougherty, Tim O'Reilly, Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair for including HOWTOONS in their fabulous magazines MAKE and CRAFT (www.makezine.com, www.craftzine.com). Also in the thank-you list should be Judith Regan who plucked us from obscurity to help us get started down the book-making path, and now the wonderful people of Harper Collins Children's Books for all of their help. We should include all of our apologies for editorial lateness!. Naturally we'd like to thank the people at Squid Labs and Eric and Christy of www.instructables.com fame for their support and work in bringing the make-it-yourself ethos to a much larger audience. MIT, MIT's media lab, and MITERS (MIT Electronic Research Society) are also to be whole-heartedly thanked for turning a blind eye to our insanity. The support of all these people and more (you) has been invaluable to us.
Not to rest on our laurels Ã¢â¬â€ we are already working on a 2nd HOWTOONS book full of more wonderful projects and crazy storylines to encourage you to grab a 9-year-old and relive the joy of messing with world around you just because it's interesting, because rockets are cool, because bugs are fascinating, because flying is magnificent, because mechanisms are intriguing, because a sheet of paper isn't a sheet of paper, it's a work of origami art waiting to (un)fold.
Furthermore, we are working on another book project, specifically a selection of DIY projects around the topic of renewable energy presented HOWTOONS-style, in order to encourage energy literacy and intuition amongst the next generation of engineers and scientists. Energy will be one of the key issues of this century and helping people understand all of the options and the promise and beauty of renewable energies is something we believe we can do to help.
If you'd like to help support Howtoons in any way we'd love to hear from you; it is still a fledgling project in its infancy trying to wend its way towards fiscal sustainability. The biggest thing most of you can probably do to help is SPREAD THE WORD! Buy some books! Go out and give yourself the experience of reliving the joy of discovering the world by working on some Howtoons projects with your favourite kids (or even better, kids you don't know yet). If you have suggestions for future projects we'd love to hear about them. One of my favourite projects in HOWTOONS Book 1 is an open-source whooppee cushion that delighted my father (and haunted his teachers) when he was a 9-year-old and will hopefully induce raucous laughter everywhere.
Again, thank you all.
Saul Griffith, Nick Dragotta, Joost Bonsen,
co-creators of HOWTOONS!
PS. Finally, and most importantly I want to wholeheartedly thank my co-authors for their friendships, musings, and hard-work. It's tremendous to work with such great people at the top of their respective games.
In case you don't know them (or me):
Nick Dragotta first knew the power of comic art when he drew pictures of injuries on the blackboard at school that were so graphic that his fellow classmates had to leave the room to throw up. Since then he has tirelessly practiced the art of comics and researched the great artists of the field. Nick has drawn for Marvel and DC, including Spider-Man, X-men, Fantastic Four, and X-static titles. He is currently passionate about making more comic books for kids. Nick lives in a small apartment with walls lined by the shortened stubs of ruined pencils. He sleeps in a pile of eraser filings, drinks black ink, and exists on a diet of pureed superhero comic books.
Joost Bonsen immigrated as a young boy to the United States from the Netherlands with his parents and his personal suitcase full of LEGOs. He grew up in Silicon Valley, California, immersed in that creative and entrepreneurial culture. While Joost was growing up, the vacant lot across the street from home served variously as play space, special effects set, race track, rocket launch pad and more as he and his friends made home movies, practiced being space explorers, and plotted space projects. Joost went to MIT for undergraduate studies in bioÃ¢â¬â€electrical engineering and recently finished his graduate degree at the MIT Sloan School of Management looking at how labs are run, how research themes emerge, and how new technologies are commercialized.
Saul Griffith grew up in Australia and his earliest memories of inventing things were of making grappling hooks for climbing trees and buildings. His childhood adventures included making his own rocketÃ¢â¬â€powered toy cars, kites, and enormous puppets. He kept a diary of drawings of his inventions as a kid that included fantastic monorails and airplanes shaped like mantaÃ¢â¬â€rays. Saul ended up studying materials scienceÃ¢â¬â€the structure of the materials we use every dayÃ¢â¬â€before going on to MIT to do a PhD in building selfÃ¢â¬â€replicating machines and a theory for folding 3Ã¢â¬â€dimensional objects. He now works at Squid Labs in California inventing cool new things for making the world a better place. He still builds kites, they are just much, much bigger now.