In the 80s a famous experiment was conducted into the roots of drug addiction using rats. Previous experiments had shown that rats left in cages would becoming hopelessly addicted to drugs, hitting them again and again until they died. But was the isolation of the cages part of the road to addiction? Researchers built “Rat Park,” a more comfortable environment where rats could play and socialize. What happened when these rats were given morphine?
For the answer, go read this thoughtful webcomic by Australian cartoonist Stuart McMillen: Rat Park, which dramatizes the experiments. This is everything an informational comic should be: clear, well researched and with an appeal to the art that keeps you reading. I also like the use of the horizontal slider for reading: I found it more intuitive than the more common vertical controls, in fact.
The Rat Park experiment is justly famed, and its conclusions are haunting, elements that McMillen gives full play.
McMillen has an array of similar non-fiction webcomics covering topics from the war on drugs to Mt. St. Helens. A whole afternoon of reading and learning—if you like Daryl Cunningham’s comics debunking various scientific hoaxes, you’ll like McMillen.
A print version of this comic was crowdfunded and is also available. A button at the end suggests a donation of $2. I hit the paypal button immediately.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.