Larry Gonick (born 1946) is a cartoonist best known for The Cartoon History of the Universe, a history of the world in comic book form, which he has been publishing in installments since 1977. He has also written The Cartoon History of the United States, and he has adapted the format for a series of co-written guidebooks on other subjects, beginning with The Cartoon Guide to Genetics in 1983. The diversity of his interests, and the success with which his books have met, have together earned Gonick the distinction of being "the most well-known and respected of cartoonists who have applied their craft to unravelling the mysteries of science" (Drug Discovery Today, March 2005).
Gonick was born on July 19, 1946 in San Francisco, California. He studied mathematics at Harvard University, graduating in 1967. He soon followed it with a master's degree in math, also in Harvard.
Comic strips and cartoons
From 1990 to 1997, Gonick penned a bimonthly "Science Classics" cartoon for the science magazine Discover. Each two-page comic discussed a recent scientific development, often one in interdisciplinary research. During the 1994-95 academic year, Gonick was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. In 1997, his 14-issue series, Candide in China, published on the World Wide Web, described Chinese inventions. He also writes the Kokopelli & Company comic that appears in the magazine Muse.
He drew the satirical, anti-corporate comic Commoners for Common Ground and later explained:
- Feeling alternately mournful and enraged about the shameless expropriation of public space, public enterprise, publicly held goods like the atmosphere, oceans, and rivers, not to mention roads, parks, sidewalks, genomes, and the broadcast spectrum—indeed the very idea of the common good—I decided to do something about it! Well, say something, anyway.
- Blood from a Stone: A Cartoon Guide to Tax Reform (with Steve Atlas), (1972 (?), New York Public Interest Research Group)
- The Cartoon Guide to Computer Science (1983, Barnes & Noble; 1991 reprinted as The Cartoon Guide to the Computer, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273097-5)
- The Cartoon Guide to Genetics (with Mark Wheelis) (1983, Barnes & Noble; 1991 revised edition, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273099-1)
- The Cartoon Guide to U.S. History: 1865-Now (1987, Barnes & Noble; 1991 revised edition as The Cartoon History of the United States, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273098-3)
- Neo-Babelonia: A serious study in contemporary confusion (1989, Veen/BSO, ISBN 978-9020419290)
- The Cartoon History of the Universe - From the Big Bang to Alexander the Great (Volumes 1-7) (1990, Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-26520-4)
- The Cartoon Guide to Physics (with Art Huffman) (1991, Harper Perennial; 1992 reprint edition, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273100-9)
- The Cartoon Guide to (non)Communication (1993 reprint edition, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273217-X)
- The Cartoon Guide to Statistics (with Woollcott Smith) (1994, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273102-5)
- The Cartoon History of the Universe II - From the Springtime of China to the Fall of Rome (Volumes 8-13) (1994, Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-42093-5)
- The Cartoon Guide to the Environment (with Alice Outwater) (1996, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273274-9)
- The Cartoon Guide to Sex (with Christine Devault) (1999, Collins, ISBN 0-06-273431-8)
- The Cartoon History of the Universe III - From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (Volumes 14-19) (2002, Doubleday, ISBN 0-393-05184-6)
- Kokopelli and Company in Attack of the Smart Pies (fiction) (2005, Cricket Books, ISBN 0-8126-2740-7)
- The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry (with Craig Criddle) (2005, Collins, ISBN 0-06-093677-0)
- The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Volume 1: From Columbus to the U.S. Constitution (2007, Collins, ISBN 0-06-076004-4)
- The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Volume 2: From the Bastille to Baghdad (2009, Collins, ISBN 0-06-076008-7)
- The Cartoon Guide to Calculus (2011, William Morrow Paperbacks, ISBN 0-06-168909-2)
- Larry Gonick official site
- Kokopelli & Company official site
- Candide in China
- Discover mathematical strips
- Works by Larry Gonick at Open Library