Cartoonists are generally clever and funny. Sidney Harris is a genius. Naturally, because he tends to skewer academics in their ivory-covered lairs, and he picks on scientists in particular, so I am partial to his particular focus. You know Harris if you have been near higher edcuation: he's the guy who does the "Professors at the chalkboard" riffs - tons and tons of math-goo, and in the lower right-hand corner of the board it says "And then a miracle occurred." Or, the academics in their caps and gowns are processing across the manicured lawn (on which there is a sign that says "Keep off the Grass"), and he punctuates this with an earthy grounds-keeper standing there incredulously and yells as them: "What's the matter, can't you guys read?!?"

Opps - "... and this is for those drug-resistant microbes."


I bought one of my favorite Harris originals for my 40th birthday. Here it is:




A few years later, as part of one of the cartoon strips that I have done over the years (in part to help prove I am clever and funny), I did an homage to Harris in a two-part series. The basic joke was that "Scientific Literacy" could be defined as understanding why a Sidney Harris cartoon was funny. I wanted to incorporate this joke from the one bought into my strip, and then I got the everso bright idea to see if Harris would take the commission to do it. He did. Bwah hah hah. Here's the original:



And here are my cartoons, from the short-lived strip titled "Under the Hood," which appeared in "The Chemical Intelligencer." You can see other references in here. One of the books in the first panel in the first strip says "Thx" and the other says "S Ege." The original scientific literacy joke came from a conversation I was having with a colleague of mine named Seyhan Ege, so a degree of thanks was in order. I did ask Harris if I could reproduce images as a part of this strip, and because this was an all-volunteer non-professional operation he agreed (thanks, again, Sidney). You can see some examples of the "professor at the chalkboard" genre in the ever-changing t-shirt of one of the characters in the second strip.