Despite the handy chart that is the Periodic Table of Elements, memorizing the properties of each chemical element is not always an easy task for visual learners. But Bunpei Yorifuji's Wonderful Life with the Elements offers a cartoon view of chemistry, illustrating each element as a little man bearing an afro, tighty whities, a bushy beard, a luminescent glow, and anything else that identifies the properties of that element. Check out a few of the book's personified elements.
Wonderful Life with the Elements, translated from the Japanese and published by No Starch Press, is a great book for chemistry students and anyone who loves to see chemistry and comics in tandem. On the one hand, the book is a rigid visual catalog of the properties of elements. Solid elements stand on two legs while liquids have watery lower bodies and gases have ghostly tails. Elements discovered in the 20th century suck on pacifiers while the elderly elements known since ancient times sport voluminous beards. Industrial elements wear suits. Members of the Nitrogen family have mohawks. Man-made elements look like clunky robots. (A few elements, in lieu of pants, show off their tiny cartoon penises.)
But there's a lot of energy in the margin notes on each element. Behold Beryllium, so hard a sword breaks over his head; Boron, who slaughters cockroaches; or Lithium, carefully tucked inside a cell phone battery. Beyond that, Yorifuji maps out the elements we might associate with primitive times, ancient times, medieval times, and today. He draws molecules as carefully stacked acrobats, and visually outlines where many common elements are found. It's an offbeat approach to the elements, and one that might spark a love of chemistry in someone who prefers visuals to lengthy walls of text.
Wonderful Life with the Elements is available both in print and as an ebook, but the print volume as comes with a love poster of the cartoon Periodic Table.