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SCIENCE TALES – expanded edition includes fracking

Lies, Hoaxes and Scams

Darryl Cunningham

Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier

Graphic journalism at its very best.

The first edition of Darryl Cunningham’s Science Tales was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the British Comics Awards ‘Best Book’. This new edition has been updated to include a clinical exposé of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and its political framework in the UK and USA. 

A graphic milestone of investigative reporting, Cunningham’s essays explode the lies, hoaxes and scams of popular science, debunking media myths and decoding some of today’s most fiercely-debated issues: climate change, electroconvulsive therapy, the moon landing, the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine, homeopathy, chiropractic, evolution, science denialism and, new for this edition, fracking.

Thoroughly researched and sourced, Cunningham’s clear narrative, graphic lines and photographic illustration explain complicated and controversial issues with deceptive ease.

The US edition, How to Fake a Moon Landing, has been nominated for the Great Graphic Novels for Teens (GGNT) List from Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) to be published in January 2014.

An extract from the fracking essay is available for free download here.

Darryl Cunningham

went to Leeds College of Art and is a prolific cartoonist. He has also worked as a health care assistant on an acute psychiatric ward which informed and inspired the thoughts and experiences which went into Psychiatric Tales. His latest graphic novel, Supercrash: How to Hijack the Global Economy, will be published by Myriad in October 2014. He lives in Yorkshire.

Vicky Ellis, Frack Free Blackpool

I think that what (Darryl is) doing is very important.  The dissemination of information is vital as there's such a glut of bad information out there.

Jonathan, Page 45

New revised edition including an extended chapter on fracking, which for those not familiar with the term is slang for a relatively new gas and oil extraction technique, which has revitalised the fossil fuel industry in recent years. It’s clear this is a topic Darryl is especially passionate about exploring as he goes into great detail eloquently explaining the technique for the lay person, weighing up the technical pros and cons, before getting into his real concerns on the matter. It’s a meticulous picking apart of the ridiculous web of half-baked facts and fiction that’s often woven around one or two grains of truth, usually completely taken and distorted totally out of context, to prove his case.

New Scientist

Cunningham's charming artwork complements his concise arguments on climate change, the first moon landing and homeopathy, among other subjects. He consistently champions the scientific method over all forms of quackery, and his stark lines and simple layouts give his comic the feel of a scientific analysis. The artwork is uncluttered, leaving little to distract the reader from the exposition, delivered in stripped-back, staccato prose.

The Observer

[Climate change]'s a familiar story. What's unusual is the way it's told. Science with some of the most urgent debates in science using pictures, speech bubbles and comic-strip layouts... Darryl Cunningham takes a view on such knotty issues as homeopathy and the MMR vaccine, sorting facts from fiction and presenting complex information in a highly accessible way.

Broken Frontier

Myriad’s already formidable and growing reputation for bringing us some of the most thought-provoking and atypical graphic novels on the shelves has just been strengthened a little bit more. Cunningham projects a quietly authoritative voice throughout. As the narrator and host for each chapter he is confrontational yet balanced; unflinching in his condemnation of the irrational and the unsupportable without ever lapsing into belligerence. Each graphic essay provides a digestible analysis of the topic and an easily grasped and reasoned refutation of the counter-arguments to scientific procedure and exploration. Artistically, Cunningham’s clean lines and his deceptively simple cartooning style perfectly complement the clarity inherent in the delivery of his carefully considered points. Cunningham manages to deftly précis the salient points of each chapter’s discussion in an entertaining, engaging, and sometimes slyly witty way. Science Tales manages to be somehow simultaneously both succinct and substantive, and a fierce and intelligent promoter of the scientific process over blind superstition and baseless supposition.


Cunningham's art ...has clean lines and a continuity that is often graceful, charming and endearing. He speaks with quiet authority on his subjects, but is careful to cite a whole range of sources and research papers.

Forbidden Planet

It’s good to see the arguments presented so well, clearly and concisely…what Cunningham does here is rather brilliantly presented, and customarily classy. As an artist his work is equally at home in the stark black and white of Psychiatric Tales or the lush and varied colours in Science Tales...Science Tales is impressive, Cunningham delivering his message with style, great art, even moments of outright comedy. All in all, we have something else to deliver the message of science and reason, and that’s a good, good thing.

Abrams ComicArts

Cunningham’s distinctive illustrative style shows how information is manipulated by all sides; his easy-to-follow narratives allow readers to draw their own fact-based conclusions. A graphic milestone of investigative journalism!

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing

A fantastic nonfiction comic book about science, skepticism and denial...Cunningham has a real gift for making complex subjects simple. If you're a Mythbusters fan, admire James Randi, enjoyed Ben Goldacre's Bad Science, and care about climate change, you'll enjoy this one. More to the point, if you're trying to discuss these subjects with smart but misguided friends and loved ones, this book might hold the key to real dialogue.

Herald Scotland

He has managed to distil the arguments into a wonderfully clear and concise form…a great primer for those seeking arguments to undermine their Daily Express-reading uncle.

The POD Delusion

Lisa Chalkley interviews Darryl Cunningham about Science Tales. It's at 57 minutes into the programme.

Headline Environment

An essentially serious attack on science denialism. Cunningham is extremely good at explaining the links between bad science and profiteering, both by supposed scientists and by the media, not just by giving two unequal sides equal weight, but by actively promoting the irrationalists, boosting their own profits through exploiting audience fears.It’s clear and straightforward at all times, making complex issues simple, but never simplistic.

Ian Williams, Graphic Medicine

A comic book with a bibliography is a rare thing. Cunningham is admirably erudite and engages in extensive research while constructing his polemical strips. The result is persuasive rhetoric: popular science not overly technical, but communicated clearly and with conviction. I use the word polemical advisedly: the tentative, provisional language of academia is noticeably absent. Rather, Cunningham writes with the courtroom eloquence of the prosecuting barrister, denouncing the accused in capital letters, his words as precise as his drawing style is hard edged. Just the treatment these defendants deserve, In my view.

Bradford Telegraph & Argus

Book of the Week. His style is cartoony and raw, but manages to be full of expression and also very evocative. Darryl displays a burgeoning talent as something of an investigative journalist. He has used many sources … to assemble lucid, clear and concise arguments against the prevailing opinions that often get blown out of all proportion by lazy media sensationalism. [Science Tales] deserves a wide audience and even if you haven't tried to read something in comic format before, you'll find this easy to follow on the one hand, and thought-provoking on the other.

BBC Radio York

Interview by Elly Fiorentini Monday, 30th April. Starts at 35 minutes into the programme. “It is entertaining. even though it also raises some very serious issues. It is very colourful, and it will get people talking... whether they agree or disagree with you, they will have an opinion… it will get the debate going.”

Comics Alliance

Cunningham never accuses people who are swayed by conspiracy theories or pseudoscience of being evil or stupid, and his tone is polite enough to win hearts and minds, provided they're open minds...Science Tales will find its home in classrooms and houses with children, where young people will find it and then prick up their ears anytime an adult mentions "getting an adjustment" or "seeing a homeopath." It will remind them that science is a matter of facts, not politics.

Mad Art Lab

With a controlled economy of line and minimalist page layouts, [Darryl] focuses on the efficient delivery of facts, which makes his comics irresistibly sharable. His iconic lines are mixed with artistic treatments of photographs—often used to introduce key never distracts from the work and gives his investigations an unmistakable documentary feel. New for Science Tales is Cunningham’s use of color, which is a welcome addition to his repertoire, and combined with the hardcover binding, makes it a classy addition to any skeptic’s comic book collection.

Tulpesh Patel for Argument magazine

It takes a real talent to pack in so much information and so many ideas and arguments in a book that contains no more than a few hundred words. As a science primer that presents complex ideas in a simple, but never simplistic, way, Science Tales cannot be recommended enough.

Comics Worth Reading

Easy to read and entertaining.

Edzard Ernst, The Pulse

A lovely book which combines its no-nonsense approach with a funny, pro-science attitude.

Chemistry World

An eye-catching way to get across the important message that a science-based approach to understanding makes far more sense than one that is evidence-free....Cunningham draws out the fictions and lays bare the facts.'

J. Keri Davies, School Science Review

Secondary school pupils will find this book appealing – so should some teachers! Buy a few copies and put them in the library.

Dr Judith Mackay, OBE, services to tobacco control.

It is very compelling – once you have started on the story, you read to the end.

Brian Fies, Eisner-award-winning author of Mom’s Cancer

A clear and thorough survey of the subject, and very important.

Broken Frontier

This new material is an excellent example of Cunningham’s approach to subject matter that many of us, no doubt, would simply switch off from or hurriedly turn the page when presented in other media. His ability to break down relatively complex issues into easily digestible and compelling narratives without ever compromising the points he makes is quite remarkable.

Robin Ince

With simplicity and depth Darryl Cunningham produces cartoons that get to the nub of why understanding the world as it seems to be, is so important.

Scott McCloud

Darryl Cunningham continues his comics crusade to untangle lies, myths, and misconceptions with a new book defending the science that’s grown from Darwin’s theory of natural selection. As usual, he does so with wit, charm, and quiet persistence.

RRP £11.99 hbk
208 pages • 152 x 210mm
ISBN 978-1-908434-36-4
E-ISBN 978-1-908434-62-3
Published 6 June 2013

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Comedian Robin Ince on Darryl's work

'With simplicity and depth Darryl Cunningham produces cartoons that get to the nub of why understanding the world as it seems to be is so important.'

Darryl tells of how he broke into the world of comics, in an interview with Indie Reader.

Darryl Cunningham on Forbidden Planet International

'Why did I choose to add material to the new editions of both Psychiatric Tales and Science Tales, I hear you ask? It wasn’t a deliberate choice. It was a decision that came out of a series of events.' Read more...

Darryl Cunningham on Pacifica Radio

Interview with Darryl on public radio in New York City about How to Fake a Moon Landing (Science Tales) and his mission in explaining difficult subjects to the general public – including himself