Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys

I am a mathematician; my son Neill is a comic artist. What could be more different?

Surprisingly, there are some parallels.

Neill tells me that in his work he faces problems with plot, page layout, and many other important things in his work; his techniques for solving them sound not so different from mine (for example, carrying the problem around in his head and worrying at it).

Neill in teaching mode

He thought that his career would involve a lot of sitting at his drawing board, but discovered quite late on a talent and enthusiasm for standing up in front of an audience and getting them involved in what he is saying.

Like me, he needs contact with his peers, which he gets at comics events rather than maths conferences, and with Twitter rather than a coffee in the common room.

Recently he has given quite a lot of thought to the question of gender-neutral comics. This is far more difficult than gender-neutral mathematics! He has posted two long musings on his blog, here and here. As with anything of this kind, I urge you (if you are interested) to read what he says rather than just dismissing the idea of “awesome comics for girls” as sexist.

I was reminded of the reaction to my comments about the IRM panel’s recommendation about increasing the number of women in mathematics. As I say, Neill is taking on a much more difficult job. Ultimately, nobody will worry about what I said on this topic; but Neill may find himself in the front line of producing such comics.

Recently, it has become fashionable to extol comics as a way to make children enthusiastic about reading, to try to do something about the literacy crisis; at the same time, traditional comics such as the Dandy are closing down. This is another area of publishing where big changes may be afoot.

About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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1 Response to Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys

  1. Jon Awbrey says:

    Early on in my school years I found myself drawn toward the visual aspect of mathematics, and from my earliest college years the dream of cinemathematics was a vision my future wife and I shared.

    From there the trail led to C.S. Peirce’s logical graphs, the joys of graph theory, and the working medium of graph-theoretical data structures.

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