The Stuff of Life

In five well-conceived and brilliantly, graphically executed chapters, The Stuff Of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA explains how life works: what cells are, how they duplicate, how they add up to a living organism, how sex works, how genetic material gets passed down from one generation to the next, and how it informs the next generation.

Award-winning scripter Mark Schultz and award-nominated illustrators and designers Kevin and Zander Cannon have created the perfect “graphic science” volume to draw readers in and explain what DNA is, how it works, and how scientists can manipulate it to create substances to help fight disease and predict what a person’s genetic baggage will be.

Already sold into many school libraries and classrooms across the country, and licensed for several foreign-language editions, The Stuff Of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA is a unique, one-volume introduction to complex science made easy.



2009 YALSA Best Graphic Novels of the Year List

Scientific American Book Club Alternate Selection


The Squinch, an asexual race from the planet Glargal, are suffering from a genetic crisis. In an effort to save them, interplanetary biologist Bloort 183 was transmitted to Earth to study the evolutionary success of its life. He is now back and presenting his findings to his planet’s leader. Much is packed into this book, which includes information on molecular and cellular life, the basic mechanics of genetics, key scientists who have made discoveries in genetics and DNA, and how they have been and are applying this knowledge. Touching on topics such as genetically altered foods and cloning, Schultz is careful to acknowledge controversial subjects while maintaining an unbiased view. His writing is informative, easy to follow, and infused with humor. The detailed black-and-white illustrations are a perfect match, offering images to enhance learning while adding to the humorous aspect of the book. . . .  This title would do well as standard reading for science students.

—Lara McAllister, Halifax Public Libraries, for School Library Journal



It’s looking grim for life on the aquatic planet of the Squinch. A heritable disorder threatens the ruling family, indeed the whole asexual species that occupies the highest rung of the planet’s evolutionary ladder. Fortunately, the scientist Bloort is back from Earth, full of enthusiasm for the key to what will save the Squinch: sex. More fortunately, the sagacious and educable emperor wishes to know the full story of this “sex.” Bloort obliges, beginning with the emergence of life on Earth and an initial pitch for sex and proceeding to reveal how genetics works on the molecular and the cellular levels, how it facilitates inheritance, and how genetic knowledge has been applied in a panoply of scientific fields. Drawn with panache and great good humor by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, and scripted with exceptional clarity by Schultz, this is pretty much the best educational graphic novel in Hill & Wang’s new line of them, good enough for interested nonscientists to keep handy for whenever they need a refresher on its subject. It even has a happy—well, promising—ending.

–Ray Olson, Booklist


In the battle against scientific ignorance, graphic novels may be the only thing that can save us . . . What’s the solution to America’s crisis in science education? More comic books. . . .  The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA, [is] a remarkably thorough explanation of the science of genetics, from Mendel to Venter, with a strand of social urgency spliced in.

—Barry Harbaugh, Wired


“The Stuff of Life is a beautifully written and lavishly illustrated example of the power of comics to communicate the wonders of the natural world. Mark Schultz’s words combine with Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon’s pictures in a dynamic enzymatic reaction that gives readers a glimpse at how life works. . . . Often funny and always engrossing, The Stuff of Life provides an exciting point of entry for anyone interested in how life on earth shapes and reshapes itself in the face of ever-changing conditions. Learning genetics just got a whole lot more fun.”

—Jay Hosler, Associate Professor of Biology at Juniata College

Product Detail

ISBN-13: 978-0809089475
Hardcover: 150 pages
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Language: English
Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches

ISBN-10: 0809089475
Paperback: 150 pages
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Language: English
Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches

Mark Schultz – Author

Mark Schultz has been cartooning, illustrating, and writing for longer than he cares to admit. Hs best-known creation is the award-winning speculative adventure comic book Xenozoic Tales, which ran for fourteen issues and has been adapted to television as the animated series Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. He has also created and written the undersea adventure SubHuman with paleontologist Michael Ryan.

In addition to his own works, Schultz has drawn or scripted many popular fictional icons, including Superman, Flash Gordon, Tarzan, The Spirit, and Conan of Cimmeria. Currently, he writes the syndicated Sunday comic strip Prince Valiant, and continues producing material for his Various Drawings book collections. His most recently published work is the illustrated novella Storms at Sea. Schultz’s scripts and illustrations have garnered five Harvey Awards, two Eisners, and an Inkpot. He lives in northeastern Pennsylvania.

 Kevin Cannon & Zander Cannon
– Artists

Big Time Attic Studios

Cartoonists Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon (no relation) have been together as a studio since 2004, but their work in comics stretches back to 1993, with such titles as The Replacement God (Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics, 1995), Top Ten (America’s Best Comics, 1999), and Smax (America’s Best Comics, 2004). They have also done various work for DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Top Shelf Productions.

Their studio work includes the nonfiction graphic novels Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards (G.T. Labs, 2005), The Stuff of Life (Hill and Wang, 2009) and T-Minus: The Race to the Moon (Aladdin, 2009). Both Cannons have been nominated for Eisner and Harvey Awards, and Zander has even won a few. They live and work in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and claim to be card-carrying members of the International Cartoonist Conspiracy. 

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