We’re having a launch party for our graphic novel this Thursday at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn, NY! It’s a great time to pick up a copy of the book and say hi, if you live in the area. If you can’t make it, the graphic novel hits stores November 25!


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  • adamsbja

    I’ve been watching How We Got to Now on PBS and it’s done a great job of emphasizing this. “Less of an eureka moment and more of a slow hunch.” Great show, with a fun attitude by the presenter with lines like “so there he was with jars full of different gases filling his workshop, so like any self-respecting mad scientist he started passing electric current through them to see what happened.”

  • John Smith

    So…who *really* invented the lightbulb?

    • Depending on your definition of “invented the lightbulb”, Alessandro Volta, Humphry Davy, Vasily Petrov, and/or several dozen other people who each produced designs with slight improvements from about 1802 through the early 20th century. And that’s just for incandescent bulbs and gas-discharge lamps. Modern fluorescent and LED lights have involved work by a great many more people.

      Incremental advancements to refine foundational technologies are far more common than some single blinding insight – despite the popularity of the latter narrative in introductions to the history of science and technology.

      • Unfortunately patent law pretty much requires a “heroic narrative” or “great man theory of history” when it comes to ownership of invention for practical reasons. Unless you want to go full anarchist and insist that patent law is a tool of oppression. Although patent absolutists have to contend with the cautionary tale of the great Sewing Machine Patent War.

  • Music for Kids


  • tudza

    I used to ride an electric scooter with a lead-acid battery. Then I got a scooter with a lithium ion battery. Better batteries are a wonderful thing.

    • S.I. Rosenbaum

      As someone who broke her toe by dropping a boat battery on it, I wholeheartedly agree. The boat battery was powering my ex-bf’s lungs. He switched to lithium shortly afterwards. Much better.

      • Adam McKinney Souza

        Was your bf Tony Stark? If so, he’s lying. That glowy thing in his chest? Nothing to do with his lungs.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    Is it bad that I read this and my first thought was “What about Tesla???” 🙁

    • Brainstorm

      In fact, that is not bad at all. More people should remember Tesla.

      • S.I. Rosenbaum

        remember Tesla whenever you use a TV remote, turn on an fluorescent light, or feed a pigeon.

        • Henry Cannon

          What does tesla have to do with TV remotes?

          • Chris

            He basically invented remote control.

          • Chad

            He invented radio frequency remote control. A TV remote, except the extremely expensive ones, just uses an infrared LED to send something akin to morse code to devices. Not a Tesla derived invention.

        • What does Tesla have to do with pigeons?

          • Bryn Schut

            Tesla kept pigeons.

      • kellys

        If anything, modern geek myth lionizes Tesla and despises Edison.

        • I think it is because modern-day Teslas are as rare as hen’s teeth, while every unvested techie thinks he’s working for a latter-day Edison. Narratives that flatter the teller and the audience both have a memetic advantage not to be trifled with.

  • Guilherme Carvalho

    Heey, new lineless style! Very gorgeous. A bit reminiscent of early John Allison’s ScaryGoRound.

    And hooray for the launch party! 🙂

  • Markus

    I actually pitched an idea similar to this at a Model United Nations conference recently. The topic we were addressing was ‘Financing Sustainable Development,’ and everyone was focused on spending money that didn’t exist instead of looking to make places where we were already spending money more efficient or trying to set up new ways to get cash flowing where it needed to go.

  • danny in canada

    Hmm. Volta? As in, the voltaic pile?

    • S.I. Rosenbaum


  • Evan Smith

    Awesome art shift.

  • David Nuttall

    Invented the battery (at least in our reality): Italian chemist Alessandro Volta, not to be confused with Voltaire, the French poet and philosopher contemporary with him. We even named the unit of electrical “pressure” (actually called potential difference by physists) after him.

    As for who invented the incandescent electric light, look at Volta again, but his design was not particularly practical for consumer use. Edison refined the incandescent light bulb so that it could operate more than a few minutes without burning out, did not need enormous amounts of electricity and could be mass produced on an industrial scale.

    • A bit more history:

      Luigi Galvani made something that could possibly be considered a battery in 1780, a bit before Volta did. Galvani showed that copper and zinc electrodes combined produced an electrical potential that could cause muscles to contract. But Galvani wrongly thought that the electricity in that experiment was coming entirely from the nerves of the frogs he was using.

      Volta had demonstrated entirely inorganic devices to produce electrical sparks for fuel ignition, and in 1800 he developed the first effective electrochemical batteries to show that Galvani was mistaken.

      A bit later still, Giovanni Aldini and Carlo Matteucci showed that nerves and muscle cells do indeed have electrical action potentials by constructing batteries variously from recently-dead frogs, oxen, eels, pigeons, and rabbits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frog_battery . The history of science is frequently kind of gross.

      Re. the invention of incandescent electrical light bulbs:

      I had thought that Humphry Davy and Vasily Petrov were the first to develop them, although some of Volta’s early batteries may have made wires used to connect the terminals glow as a side effect of shorting out the circuit. Davy’s arc lamp was first demonstrated in 1802.

      Either way, there were dozens of people who developed various improved incandescent lights before Edison and others made versions that were durable and suitable for mass production.

      • S.I. Rosenbaum

        Galvani and Volta’s argument about organic v inorganic electricity always amazes me because they were both so right and so wrong. Galvani was absolutely right in his intuition that the living body uses its own electrical current to ennervate muscles, totally wrong in his understanding of how that worked. Volta – totally right about what was creating the current in Galvani’s frog experiments, ie, not the dead frogs – but wrong in dismissing Galvani’s bigger-picture insight on organic electrophysiology.

        As for the grossness of early electrophysiology experiments – I believe Germany at one point had to actually outlaw the use of cadavers in this field of science.

        • Those experiments also contributed to the field of entertainment, as they directly inspired Mary Shelly (who wrote Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.

      • David Nuttall

        I know I left a bunch of people out between Volta and Edison, but they we not significant to this conversation. Besides, an arc lamp and an incandescent lamp work a little differently, and I consider then different inventions.

      • fairportfan

        Edison’s claim to have “invented” the light bulb comes from his team having developed the first material that could be used to make a reliable light bulb filament that would last long enough to be of practical use.


        Volta’s main contribution was to invent the “Voltaic pile” – basically a large number of electric cells in a stack (a basic chemical cell gives something in the neighbourhood of 1.5 volts – varying according to what kind of reaction it uses – so to get more than that, you have to put a number of them in series).

        This became known as an “electrical battery” – from analogy to a battery of guns – so nowadays we call even single cells (“AA” and “C”, for instance) “batteries”.


        (Which reminds me, since i’m off on a free-associating trail of etymology, that, since early phonographic records only held a few minutes of music, to provide more music at one go, you bought a number of records, generally packaged in a box with paper inserts that held the records, and this was called a “record album”…)

    • S.I. Rosenbaum

      One of the few things Edison took credit for that he actually DID, I believe

    • kellys

      It was some time back (like, decades), and may have been discredited, but didn’t they find some ancient prototypes of things that might have been experimental, impractical batteries (like Hero’s steam engine toy)? Pottery jars filled with severely corroded electrodes and the residue of what might have been acid?

      • Sabriel

        That’s awesome

      • In Mesopotamia and/or Egypt, in context which suggested that they were part of some sort of mechanized “temple miracle” system, the thought being that the priests were doing some sort of spectacular effect with electricity or to power literal “deus ex machina”, IIRC. Really, all sorts of neat mechanical and technical gear have been invented and lost to obscurity over the millennia, due to the absence of 1) post-alchemical scientific attitudes towards circulating results in a public manner and 2) patent law replacing traditional trade secrecy. 1) meant that discoveries and concepts were kept hidden among this or that mystery cult, and not shared among all who were interested, while 2) kept innovations closely held among guild masters or businessmen determined to keep their rivals or potential rivals from profiting from their innovations, or improving on existing techniques kept secret.

      • You may be thinking of the pseudoscience of the “Baghdad battery”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Battery .

        There are a series of terracotta pots dating from c. 225 CE that are now in the collection of the National Museum of Iraq. They were originally used to hold copper canisters which held scrolls wrapped around thin iron rods, apparently a style similar to various Seleucid artifacts from about a century earlier. The seals on these particular pots & canisters had been corroded away, and eventually the parchments/papyri rotted away. That left only the pots, canisters, rods, and a small quantity of slightly acid residue behind.

        In 1940, a German archaeologist claimed that the pots could have served as electrochemical cells used to electroplate gold onto silver objects. However, the claimed electroplating would have required filling several of the jars with some electrolyte fluid and then wiring them together in series to produce a useful voltage. The pots/canisters/rods have no sign of such wires, nor any place where they might have been attached. And the claimed-to-have-been-electroplated artifacts were actually fire-gilded with an amalgam of mercury and gold.

        Despite this, the myth of ancient batteries has persisted.

  • Mneneon

    I’ve been enjoying the comic from the get go, but today’s page blew me away. That’s a beautiful metaphor and I need to remember it. Do you sell any prints or posters of pages? I am going to try to convince my Brooklyn-based artist sister to go to your launch party and at least pick up the graphic novel for me.

  • Motion through one overarching background, I like the style for this page … 🙂

  • Damien S.

    I think people care a lot more about batteries in the era of laptops, smartphones, and electric cars. 🙂

  • S.I. Rosenbaum

    Whenever I panic about the coming apocalypse, I remind myself that you only really need medieval-level technology to build a pretty good battery. Or a lot of potatoes.

  • ZBass

    I can’t help but think of that scene from Mary Poppins when I see characters go inside a cartoon. This of course is a good thing.

  • David Nuttall

    One of the reasons we associate Edison with the invention of the battery is that Tommy-boy was a master of self-promotion, on a level with P. T. Barnum. Sure, there were dozens of people between Volta and Edison who made incandescent lights a little better with each step, but Edison was the one who made it work, as far as he told everybody.

    • kellys

      I like to compare him to Steve Jobs, and vice versa.

    • The Edison battery was an improved NiFe cell based on a Russian invention, from back before the communists claimed Everything was a “Russian Invention”. The main advantage of the NiFe cell is it has an extremely long cycle life with some batteries in constant use under a charge-discharge cycle since the 1920s. That is daily use for almost a century with measured capacity still within QC limits for a new battery, or about 36,000 cycles.The best Lead-acid batteries would require yearly replacement to function at the same level, or every 3 years or so as they died.

    • David Nuttall

      Oops, I meant incandescent light for Edison, but he did do some work on rechargeable batteries..

  • Potatamoto

    Oh my goodness, I’m loving this…the art style here is so interesting, as is the whole conversation! And on multiple levels…I’m sure a hardworking battery like Moonshadow (at least in her own mind) would agree, compared to flashy bulb like Alison.

    And I wonder, and worry…is that a point of view that Lisa might share? Or at least, might be persuaded to share at some point?

  • Arturo Roa

    “There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging our debt to the former, we nonetheless yearn for the latter.”

    –Academician Prokhor Zhakarov, “Address to the Faculty”

  • D. Schwartz

    Those last four word bubbles are very true. We are seeing it trying to be organized and regimented now with a hyper emphasis on STEM, while highly valuable, but it comes at a detriment to other fields that are necessary for analysis and creation. intense focus is frequently a less than optimal situation since it kills flexibility.

  • Matthew_Hindpaw

    Yeah, Edison was a patent-buying basted how electrocuted animals for his own means.