“I remember as a kid an old ’50s reprint where Superboy generated a massive amount of static electricity by fashioning a gargantuan glass rod and rubbing a similarly huge silk cloth against it. Many of those stories read as if the writers kept a stack of Popular Science close at hand, and it’s noteworthy that I can’t remember the plot but still remember how Superboy made the electricity he needed. Any young Superman reader would also have a vague understanding of the process that turns carbon into diamond- any time Clark Kent was running low on cash he’d scope around for some charcoal briquets at a cookout and squeeze/heat vision himself up some stones to impress the ladies. The science would usually be fast and loose, but a key connection was still made, and I would have some bit of insight into the physical world.”
Parker also discusses Terry and the Pirates, Prince Valiant, and Xenozoic Tales, as well as overtly “educational” comics like those that teach how DNA works, or what exactly the Federal Reserve does. GT Labs also gets a well-deserved shout-out.
In the comments, readers are already discussing what they’ve learned from reading comics. I have to personally admit that, like a couple of others, I was actually inspired to do my own research into Norse mythology after having read about Thor in ye olde Marvel comics.
Anyway: Thank you, Jeff, for reminding us all how comics can potentially educate us, even when we least expect it.