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Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation


Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation

One hundred and fifty years ago, a little book by the name of On the Origin of Species was published. Perhaps you heard of it? It ranks somewhere up there with the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran on lists of controversial books. And now is a perfect time to revisit the journey embarked upon by Charles Darwin as he put forth one of the most important scientific discoveries in history.
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is not just a re-presenting of Darwin’s book. It’s also the story of Darwin’s own personal evolution, the story of how he made his pivotal trip to Galapagos, and how he coped with the reaction to his work. In this latter portion, the afterword, Darwin narrates as he continues to learn how to tweak his theory based on the works of scientists who had come before.
But before it gets to that point, the book first travels through Darwin’s research and how he came to his shocking conclusions. A helpful timeline complements the text, rendering the book even more useful and informative.
The book is written by Michael Keller, a journalist with a background in wildlife ecology (for which he earned a bachelor’s of science degree). Keller has done his research—he includes Darwin’s own letters, eloquently presents Darwin’s research, and plainly states the results and implications of it all. As you might expect, it’s rather heavy on text, but the illustrations (more on them in a second) help to make Darwin’s work not only come alive but truly “click” with the reader. And we are reminded how truly broad and groundbreaking Darwin’s work was. While evolution remains the hot-button issue of the day, the scope of his research throughout is an incredible journey through human history.
As for those illustrations: Nicolle Rager Fuller does an exemplary job of presenting so many species (it must have been an unenviable task to research the look of each of these animals, insects, plants, reptiles, fish, and more). Fuller herself has a scientific background—she runs Sayo-Art LLC, an illustration firm used by many scientific organizations. Her work here is impeccable. The illustrations are perfect, and more than ably suited for the task at hand.

That task is plainly and simply explaining the work of one of the greatest scientists in history. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species will be helpful in schools and libraries, where it will undoubtedly help science classes get the lessons of evolution across to students, but it also is useful to readers looking to finally understand what all the fuss was about.

Reviewed by John Hogan on July 6, 2012

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation
by Michael Keller

  • Publication Date: October 27, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel, Science
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books
  • ISBN-10: 1605299480
  • ISBN-13: 9781605299488