Many English science comic books exist, but it’s rare to see the same in the Chinese language. This is where 老师早安, a comic book series with twenty-odd volumes, fills the gap. These published-in- Malaysia books are obviously very popular in my neighbourhood library, and each of them gets snapped up in a blink of an eye. I count myself lucky, though; I snagged quite a few of them (even though some were torn and tattered) before the library closed its doors due to the coronavirus.
There is also a Malay edition, and an English one. Of course, learning science in Chinese isn’t that easy if the terms peppered around are not familiar or commonly used. Reading them in English would be much easier, but the Chinese versions are great for picking up new vocabulary. Take 花粉过敏症, 青春痘, and 钙质, for example.
The four-panel comic strips sandwiched between each chapter are light-hearted and provide comic relief, yet at the same time allow us to grasp fascinating concepts easily. Wacky topics such as pooping, food poisoning, and the science behind touch screens (like your iPad or iPhone), are presented via a backstory of four main characters set in a school. These characters are easily relatable and rather memorable. One is naughty, the other is nerdy, one is down-to-earth, and the last is gluttony. These four school kids make for an interesting quartet and it is through their eyes that we learn about Science in a clear and refreshing way.
Speaking of illustrations, the drawing style is vivid and is characterised by thick, dynamic and spontaneous brushstrokes— the perfect rival and relief to the thin-outline trend that Cartoon Network productions have set. Like other comic book series, it is not just one person doing the work. A whole team of drawers, inkers, colourers, and writers are working behind the scenes, to deliver one consistent style of illustration.
A great job overall. I’ll borrow more of them when the library reopens!