15 February 2018

Drawn to Geoscience: Narwhals!!!

Posted by Shane Hanlon

This post is part of our Drawn to Geoscience series where our own JoAnna Wendel creates (and explains her process for) comics of stories published in AGU’s journals and covered by our blogs or news site. The research, Glacial fronts in West Greenland as habitat for narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in summer, was presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting. 

By JoAnna Wendel 

It’s time for narwhals! Who doesn’t like narwhals? I LOVE narwhals—they’re cute, they have a unicorn-like horn, and we know almost nothing about them! But some new research was presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR this week, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to make a comic.

This time around I tried something new with the art—I did away with black outlines and even panels. This is new for me but I think it adds a nice story-book appearance, which might attract different audiences (and maybe younger ones!). In terms of science, I left out a lot of things I might have to explain in detail to highlight the bigger picture: Here’s this new thing scientists found out about narwhals.

I also tried to hold back on anthropomorphizing the narwhals in an attempt to keep the story a little more serious. I think with the storybook style of the art, adding speech bubbles to the narwhals (and the fish they’re trying to eat) might have made it look too silly. Although, I couldn’t resist adding a tiny hint of a smile to the narwhals’ mouths (because, NARWHALS!!!).

If I was going to do it again, I’d probably add more details about where the underwater glacial water comes from (melting ice from the top of the glacier), and how scientists think glaciers might change in the future. However, to experiment with new art styles and playing with texture, I decided to shorten the comic to save time.

Check it out below!

–JoAnna Wendel (@JoAnnaScience) is a Staff Writer for Eos