Comedic, Kid-Friendly(ish) informative Graphic Novels (science/history)?
April 24, 2017 1:52 PM   Subscribe

My son (5 years old) and I had a great time reading through The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer. Most of it went way over his head (and, to be fair, mine as well) but he enjoyed the heck out of it nonetheless. I'm looking for more graphic novels in this vein that I can read with my son.

The book in question is (mostly) factual, informative, very funny and irreverent (while still respectful). It also has no overt sexual overtones, "hard" violence (though lots of bonking and crashing, which he loved), or swearing (except of the !$%#!! variety).

I'm hoping to find more books like this.

Bonus points if the book:
  • features a character from a disenfranchised group in an empowering way (e.g. women, people of color, differently able, neurodiverse)
  • is very funny
  • lends itself to reading out loud, particularly many funny noises
  • teaches about history, science, or ideas in general
  • is more cartoonish in its depictions (e.g. not like Rex Morgan M.D.)
I want to avoid books that are unhappy at all costs. I started reading A Series of Unfortunate Events and it was just… awful (more for me than for him, honestly). I also want to avoid books that are very scary or feature characters being awful to one another.

Long shot: I'm especially interested in something that goes over the early history of electricity. I found They Changed the World but it looks like a very serious (and seriously drawn) treatment of the subject. That's a snoozer for sure.
posted by Deathalicious to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
BTW if you are at all interested in the history of computers I can't recommend The Thrilling Adventures… enough. It's absolutely riveting and also possibly one of the most thoroughly researched comic books I've ever read (and the footnotes and appendixes show not just a comprehensive knowledge of the text but also a genuine fondness for the subject matter).
posted by Deathalicious at 1:53 PM on April 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

You should take a look at Larry Gonick's work. I first read The Cartoon History of the Universe Volume 1 in high school; it turned out to be really useful when I was taking Ancient Greek History in college. He's now got quite a number of books, and the ones I've read make a point to cover non-western history and women.

It might be worth previewing yourself and possibly keeping it around for when your son is older if you think it's a little too much right now. They might be a little on the grown-up side (battle scenes, possibly some sexy stuff) but not super graphic, and no swearing as I recall. I've only read Volumes 1 and 2 of the History of the Universe; it's possible that other books are closer to G or PG.
posted by nickmark at 2:30 PM on April 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

You'll probably want to review this yourself first, but The Boy Who Loved Math is a biography of Erdos in graphic novel format, aimed at K and up, I think.
posted by praemunire at 3:01 PM on April 24, 2017

First Second has a whole line called Science Comics. They are aimed at kids more in the 9-13 range, but if you two read The Thrilling Adventures ... together, I think these shouldn't be a problem. (They're mostly nature-y topics right now, and they're not all out yet.)

Jim Ottaviani has a bunch of books out covering a wide variety of science topics, but you may want to prescreen them first for appropriateness (I'd say they're mostly late preteen to adult). Both Primates and Dignifying Science are about women scientists.

Corrine Maier and Anne Simon's Einstein might be worth a look -- possibly not the most kid-friendly, though. Same with Fabien Grolleau and Jérémie Royer's Audubon.

I know there's a bunch I'm not remembering so I may add some more things tomorrow.
posted by darksong at 3:10 PM on April 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

GoodReads has these two lists: Science Graphic Novels and Books like The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.
posted by ringu0 at 3:19 PM on April 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

For history, my son really loves Nathan Hale's (that's the authors name) Hazardous Tales series. While not graphic novels, the Horrible Histories and Horrible Science series are pretty great. Very funny, kind of gross. We discovered them on a trip to London and we have dozens of them. My son re-reads them over and over.
posted by ceejaytee at 5:49 PM on April 24, 2017

You need El Deafo. It's an autobiographical graphic novel, less straight-up history, but it's good-natured and very disability-positive and all the human characters are drawn as adorable bunnies.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:28 PM on April 24, 2017

Seconding the recommendation for First Second Books. My son got Human Body Theater when he was six and loved it.
posted by fings at 6:58 PM on April 24, 2017

Jay Hosler! You should immediately read Clan Apis and The Last of the Sandwalkers.

They are adventure stories about bugs (bees in the former, all kinds of beetles in the latter). Clan Apis is pretty much straight education about bees through the story of one member of a hive; The Last of the Sandwalkers is more fantasy, with beetles that have a whole civilization with technology and everything, but it's FULL of great information about different beetles and how they live.

Hosler has a few other books, too--a couple about evolution and one that appears to be about how eyes work. They're delightful reads!
posted by gideonfrog at 5:03 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Center for Cartoon Studies has a series of graphic biographies that are quite good. Subjects include: Satchel Paige, Henry David Thoreau, Amelia Earhart, and Helen Keller.
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:16 AM on April 25, 2017

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