Year’s reckoning

As we’re coming to the end of 2012, I wanted to thank you all for your support and encouragement throughout the year.

I started drawing science/academia cartoons in June 2011 (remember the first one?) and I am still surprised at how fast the audience grew, multiplying the blog’s traffic by a factor of 100 in a matter of hours.

In the meantime, I feel that I have also grown as a cartoonist. The sketches are now – at least by my own assessment – much better than they used to, and although every time I draw a strip I feel like I’ll never have another idea again, the crazy and amazing world of academic research always has more to offer.

year's reckoning

However, the frequency of posted cartoons has dropped noticeably in the past few months, going from three-a-week to about one-a-week. This is the result of many factors, including full-time employment, a LOT of travelling, some pretty huge life changes and a number of freelance writing/cartooning opportunities. And last but not least comes the attention demanded by my novels, the first of which, LAZARUS, was published earlier this year to a happy degree of success.

In short, my cartooning time has dwindled somewhat, and, for that, I apologise. The Upturned Microscope now has many great fans, and I really want to respond to their enthusiasm. Also, I absolutely love drawing cartoons, and being able to describe myself officially as a “cartoonist” is just something that would have never, ever, crossed my mind two years ago.

However, time and energy don’t always go hand-in-hand, and are often both absent from my life these days.

So, please bear with me, and I will continue to strive to update as often as I can. As we move into the Christmas holidays, I will try to match the theme of the season, but since I’ll be travelling and writing a fair bit, I can’t promise anything on the scale of last year’s Postdoc Carol and research Christmas songs.

But in the meantime, I thank you all for being patient, zealous, creative, contributing and downright nuts with the Upturned Microscope. You’ve made it what it is and you are the fuel that keeps it going. I’m just a guy with an old laptop and a drawing tablet.

Thank you.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – and try to get out of the lab a little. Who knows, maybe the Shoe Elves will run your PCRs overnight.

Lots of love,

— Nik

Coming back…

The Upturned Microscope is back from severe tanning and will resume its loving embrace of  academo-scientific culture very very soon.

As always, ideas and requests are more than welcome.


A few nice people have noticed the rather pronounced absence of any kind of activity on the blog for the past week or so. I just wanted to fire a quick post to let you all know what’s going on.

I have mentioned in the past that I dabble in novel-writing a fair bit. Well, that dabbling is about to bear fruit soon, with the publication of my first novel, LAZARUS, on Amazon Kindle (and other formats, depending on demand).

LAZARUS is a sci-fi psychological thriller that I wrote during the sleepless nights of my PhD. If you want to learn a bit more about it, you can read this summary.

What all this means is that I’ve been burning my free time on editing LAZARUS, so that readers’ eyes don’t bleed when it comes out. And between that, some travelling, and work, comics have taken a back seat. Me only has two hands.

So, that’s the reason why The Upturned Microscope has fallen quiet. I’m hoping that LAZARUS will be out in June, and I hope even more that it will be read by more than 0 people.

Until then, I leave you with the totally awesome cover that the totally awesome Gareth Axford designed:

It’s coming…


Sooooo… die-hard fans of The Upturned Microscope (estimated to be in the high zeros) might have noticed that there hasn’t been a comic up for over a week now. The reason is that last Thursday I travelled to Seoul, South Korea, on a business trip (covering an antibiotics summit), and between a 10-day week, tons of onsite work and jet lag, my cartooning capacity has dwindled like career options after a third postdoc (see? I still got it!). Today I took a day off, but due to family obligations, I’ve been up since 4 am.

Anyway, I just wanted to share some photos from Seoul. I didn’t manage to take many, since I was busy with actual work most of the time, but what I did manage to snap was a lot of Korean food. I’m serious. It looks like all we did out there was eat. Like, non-stop. And I’m not talking about common Western food like this “K-Texas special”, which, to my shame, I simply could not finish (it was enough to feed 3 grown men):

I’m talking weird tasty things that I can’t even pronounce, let alone identify. Like this 23-course meal, which constituted the conference’s dinner (I only managed to photograph 14 dishes). If you can name any of these, comments are open.

This was one meal. It was a lot. It took over two hours. They just kept bringing us course after course after course. There seemed to be no end to the little bowls of tasty Korean yuminess. By course 16, I was scared. By course 20, which was that fish in the centre, I knew despair.

But I didn’t just eat and work. I saw a bit of Seoul, which was hard to photograph due to fog and rain that I was told came straight out of China.

As you can see, it has lots of tall buildings. Lots.

But unlike other large cities, where the inhabitants virtually walk through each other (think London), I found the people friendly, polite and pleasant. Of course, I stayed at what seemed to me to be a bazillion-star hotel, and I got to travel business class for the first time in my four decades on this earth – so I might not have been exposed to a representative cross-section of Seoul’s life.

So here are some interesting shots. First of all, when I received my conference badge and tag, I noticed that I had magically been promoted:

That’s right. Didn’t have to waste my years in academia, chasing that Nature paper. All I had to do was turn up to this summit and – bam! Professor Nik. Like a total boss.

I’ll leave this one with you: A shot of the elevator buttons. What’s wrong with this picture?

I hope to resume comics soon. Please bear with me!

The Upturned Microscope in 2011

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for The Upturned Microscope.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 140,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.