1 December 2020
Posted by Shane Hanlon
#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here.
Greetings from Antarctica!
Am I actually there? Sadly, no, except in my dreams. In dreams I see penguins “porpoising” through aquamarine waters, snow blowing off mountaintops that encompass every shade of periwinkle, lavender, pink, and white, and the ruddy faces of the people who populate this wild, wild place and give it its rightful, magnificent place in our understanding of how Planet Earth works.
Few of us go to the ice and come back unchanged. Certainly I’ll never be the same, and neither will my work.
I’m not a scientist, I’m someone who tells stories about them.
In 2017, I learned that after several years of applying, I’d finally made the cut: the National Science Foundation was funding me to travel to Palmer Station, Antarctica, under the Antarctic Artists and Writers program, as a member of a team of researchers from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. My plan: to create a visual journal that would show our experiences in writing and drawings. The intention: to share the journal online for the two-month duration of our trip.
From the very first entry, I felt I’d found myself somehow — much as I did on Antarctic ice — in this comic-story format. So I continued throughout the year of the program, then turned right around and went back to Antarctica aboard a ship drilling for the history of the Amundsen Sea. One more year and then another. . . and now AGU has kindly offered my comic, #AntarcticLog, a space here, at Sharing Science.
The comics now number more than 175. I’ve covered climate change research in Antarctica, the Arctic, tropical coral reefs, deciduous forests, and hurricane zones. I’ve described research, innovations, public policy, and activism, shared poetry, prose, and lots of pictures, from penguin skeletons to pee bottles to profiling floats.
All of it — every comic — is designed to celebrate the pursuit of science and international collaboration — just like this one, a cake I made especially for the 61st anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic treaty.
I’ll be back next week with more. Thank you for having me!
–Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram.