Take a Free Online Course on Making Comic Books, Compliments of the California College of the Arts

Gath­er round, chil­dren and lis­ten to Grand­ma rem­i­niscin’ ‘bout the days when study­ing comics meant chang­ing out of your paja­mas and show­ing up at the bursar’s office, check in hand.

Actu­al­ly, Grandma’s full of it. Graph­ic nov­els are enjoy­ing unprece­dent­ed pop­u­lar­i­ty and edu­ca­tors are turn­ing to comics to reach reluc­tant read­ers, but as of this writ­ing, there still aren’t that many pro­grams for those inter­est­ed in mak­ing a career of this art form.

The Cal­i­for­nia Col­lege of the Arts is a notable excep­tion. You can get your MFA in Comics there.

Even bet­ter, you need not enroll to sam­ple the 5 week course, Comics: Art in Rela­tion­ship, led by Comics MFA chair and Eis­ner Award-nom­i­nat­ed author of The Home­less Chan­nel, Matt Sila­dy.

You might write the next Scott Pil­grim.

Or ink the next Fun Home.

At the very least, you’ll learn a thing or two about lay­out, the rela­tion­ship of art to text, and using com­pres­sion to denote the pas­sage of time.

It’s the sort of nit­ty grit­ty train­ing that would ben­e­fit both vet­er­ans and new­bies alike.

Ready to sign up? The free course, which starts in Feb­ru­ary, will require approx­i­mate­ly 10 hours per week. The syl­labus is below.

Ses­sion 1: Defin­ing Comics

Iden­ti­fy key rela­tion­ships in sam­ple texts & demon­strate the use of var­i­ous cam­era angles on a comics page

Ses­sion 2: Comics Rela­tion­ships

Cre­ate Text-Image and Image-Image Pan­els

Ses­sion 3: Time And Space

One Sec­ond, One Hour, One Day Comics Chal­lenge

Ses­sion 4: Lay­out And Grid Design

Apply mul­ti­ple pan­el grids to pro­vid­ed script

Ses­sion 5: Thumb­nails

Cre­ate thumb­nail sketch­es of a mul­ti­page scene

Enroll here.

via io9

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Kapow! Stan Lee Is Co-Teach­ing a Free Com­ic Book MOOC, and You Can Enroll for Free

Lyn­da Barry’s Illus­trat­ed Syl­labus & Home­work Assign­ments from Her New UW-Madi­son Course, “Mak­ing Comics”

In Ani­mat­ed Car­toon, Ali­son Bechdel Sees Her Life Go From Puli­tiz­er Prize Win­ning Com­ic to Broad­way Musi­cal

Down­load 15,000+ Free Gold­en Age Comics from the Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um

1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Samuel Beckett Play Brought to Life in an Eerie Short Film Starring Alan Rickman & Kristin Scott Thomas

Here at Open Cul­ture, when we think of authors who write work made for the movies, we do, of course, think of names like Dan Brown, J.K. Rowl­ing, and Robert Lud­lum — but even more so of names like Samuel Beck­ett, whose push­ing of aes­thet­ic and intel­lec­tu­al bound­aries on the stage we wel­come now more than ever on the screen. And in a way, his works have under­gone more com­plete film adap­ta­tion than have the books of many best­selling main­stream writ­ers, thanks to the 2002 omnibus project Beck­ett on Film, which round­ed up nine­teen auteurs to direct films, rang­ing in length from sev­en min­utes to two hours, of each and every one of his nine­teen plays.

Beck­ett on Film’s ros­ter of direc­tors includes Michael Lind­say-Hogg doing Wait­ing for Godot, Atom Egoy­an doing Krap­p’s Last Tape, Neil Jor­dan doing Not I, the artist Damien Hirst doing Breath, and Antho­ny Minghel­la, he of The Eng­lish Patient and The Tal­ent­ed Mr. Rip­ley, doing Play, which you can watch above. The six­teen-minute pro­duc­tion adapts Beck­et­t’s 1963 one-act, a dis­tinc­tive­ly pur­ga­to­r­i­al sort of roman­tic dra­ma which presents a man (“M”), his wife (“W1”), and his mis­tress (“W2”), each trapped in an urn, each forced to speak about the details of their tri­an­gu­lar rela­tion­ship when, on stage, the spot­light turns to them. On film, Minghel­la choos­es to swap out the spot­light for the cam­era itself, which cuts, swings, and shifts focus swift­ly between the three, com­mand­ing the his­to­ry of the affair from all three per­spec­tives, each deliv­ered with flat, rapid-fire insis­tence yet with sur­pris­ing clar­i­ty and feel­ing as well.

Those qual­i­ties nat­u­ral­ly owe to Beck­et­t’s mas­tery of the word, but also to the per­for­mances of the three actors, giv­en under absurd cir­cum­stances, caked with filth and stuffed into pots: Kristin Scott Thomas as the wife, Juli­et Steven­son as the mis­tress, and the late Alan Rick­man as the hic­cup­ing adul­ter­er. Every line they speak dis­tills some aspect of the Beck­et­t­ian world­view: “Silence and dark­ness were all I craved,” says Thomas’ W1. “Well, I get a cer­tain amount of both. They being one. Per­haps it is more wicked­ness to pray for more.” “Things may dis­im­prove,” says Steven­son’s W2. “Adul­ter­ers, take warn­ing,” says Rick­man’s M, “nev­er admit.” And the ulti­mate ques­tion: “When will all this have been… just play?” But in Beck­et­t’s real­i­ty, there’s noth­ing so “just” about it.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a “Breath” and Watch Samuel Beckett’s One-Minute Play

Hear Samuel Beckett’s Avant-Garde Radio Plays: All That Fall, Embers, and More

Samuel Beck­ett Directs His Absur­dist Play Wait­ing for Godot (1985)

Mon­ster­piece The­ater Presents Wait­ing for Elmo, Calls BS on Samuel Beck­ett

Rare Audio: Samuel Beck­ett Reads Two Poems From His Nov­el Watt

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

85 Compelling Films Starring and/or Directed By Women of Color: A List Created by Director Ava DuVernay & Friends on Twitter


Image by Marie Maye, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

If you fol­low film news—or real­ly, just news—you’re well aware of the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the cur­rent crop of Acad­e­my Award nom­i­nees. While awards extrav­a­gan­zas seem like lit­tle more than pop­u­lar­i­ty con­tests, it is curi­ous that nei­ther the acclaimed lead actors nor the direc­tors received nom­i­na­tions for two of the most pop­u­lar films of the year—Creed and Straight Out­ta Comp­ton. (See SNL’s satir­i­cal take on this.) There’s been no short­age of crit­i­cal praise for the tal­ent in those films and oth­ers, cast­ing doubt on claims that actors, writ­ers, direc­tors, etc. of col­or sim­ply weren’t up to snuff. The truth is like­ly more banal: most of the Acad­e­my vot­ers are old­er white men. (“Old­er and more dude-heavy than just about any place in Amer­i­ca,” says The Atlantic, “and whiter than all but sev­en states.”) No need to allege out­right con­spir­a­cy when implic­it bias oper­ates to exclude peo­ple all the time with­out mali­cious intent.

Nor do cor­po­rate buzz­words like “diver­si­ty” car­ry much weight when it comes to cre­at­ing a more inclu­sive indus­try. “It’s a med­i­c­i­nal word,” says Sel­ma direc­tor Ava DuVer­nay, “that has no emo­tion­al res­o­nance… Diver­si­ty’s like, ‘Ugh, I have to do diver­si­ty.’ ” No one wants to attend a “diver­si­ty train­ing” or read a hir­ing man­u­al about how to “do diver­si­ty”; rec­og­niz­ing tal­ent should­n’t be a forced, pro­ce­dur­al mat­ter, but a mat­ter of course. The Acad­e­my has vowed to make changes by retir­ing many inac­tive mem­bers to non-vot­ing emer­i­tus sta­tus and—in an Orwellian turn of phrase—“doubling the num­ber of diverse mem­bers” by 2020, what­ev­er that means. The afore­men­tioned DuVer­nay has been sow­ing seeds of dis­con­tent with the sta­tus quo for quite some time now, online and in the indus­try itself with her dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pa­ny AFFRM+Array Releas­ing, which attempts to coun­ter­bal­ance the racial and gen­der dis­par­i­ties in the film world.

In a tweet last year, writ­ten off the cuff dur­ing a writ­ing break, she put out a call to fol­low­ers to “name three films you like with black, brown, native or Asian women leads” or direc­tors. Indiewire com­ments that “it seems like com­mon sense that these films exist,” yet “the ques­tion proved to be a seri­ous chal­lenge for Twit­ter.” Even­tu­al­ly, DuVer­nay and the Twit­ter denizens came up with a list of 85 titles star­ring and/or direct­ed by women of col­or, and you can see them all list­ed below. If you find your­self watch­ing movie after movie about the same kinds of expe­ri­ences, maybe con­sid­er mak­ing your own view­ing habits more “diverse” by check­ing out some of these excel­lent, and in most cas­es lit­tle-seen movies, includ­ing two well-reviewed films from DuVer­nay her­self, 2010’s I Will Fol­low and 2012’s Mid­dle of Nowhere.

“35 Shots of Rum” by Claire Denis (2008)
“A Dif­fer­ent Image” by Alile Sharon Larkin (1982)
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” by Ana Lily Amir­pour (2014)
“Advan­ta­geous” by Jen­nifer Phang (2015)
“Ala Modalain­di” by Nan­di­ni Bv Red­dy (2011)
“All About You” by Chris­tine Swan­son (2001)
“Alma’s Rain­bow” by Ayoka Chen­zi­ra (1994)
“Appro­pri­ate Behav­ior” by Desiree Akha­van (2014)
“B For Boy” by Chi­ka Anadu (2013)
“Bande de Filles/Girlhood” by Céline Sci­amma (2014)
“Belle” by Amma Asante (2013)
“Bend it Like Beck­ham” by Gurinder Chad­ha (2002)
“Bessie” by Dee Rees (2015)
“Beyond the Lights” by Gina Prince-Bythe­wood (2014)
“Bha­ji on the Beach” by Gurinder Chad­ha (1993)
“Caramel” by Nadine Laba­ki  (2007)
“Cir­cum­stance” by Maryam Keshavarz (2011)
“Civ­il Brand” by Neema Bar­nette (2002)
“Com­pen­sa­tion” by Zeinabu irene Davis (199)
“Daugh­ters of the Dust” by Julie Dash (1991)
“Dou­ble Hap­pi­ness ” by Mina Shum (1994)
“Down in the Delta” by Maya Angelou (1998)
“Dry­long­so” by Cauleen Smith (1988)
“Earth” by Deepa Mehta (1998)
“Elza” by Mari­ette Mon­pierre (2011)
“End­less Dreams” by Susan Youssef (2009
“Eve’s Bay­ou” by Kasi Lem­mons (1997)
“Fire” by Deepa Mehta (1996)
“Fri­da” by Julie Tay­mor (2002)
“Girl in Progress” by Patri­cia Riggen (2012)
“Girl­fight” by Karyn Kusama (2000)
“Habibi Rasak Khar­ban” by Susan Youssef (2011)
“Hiss Dokhtarha Faryad Nem­izanand (Hush! Girls Don’t Scream)” by Pouran Der­ahkan­deh (2013)
“Hon­ey­trap” by Rebec­ca John­son (2014)
“I Like It Like That” by Dar­nell Mar­tin (1994)
“I Will Fol­low” by Ava DuVer­nay (2010
“In Between Days” by So-yong Kim (2006)
“Intro­duc­ing Dorothy Dan­dridge” by Martha Coolidge (1999)
“It’s a Won­der­ful After­life” by Gurinder Chad­ha (2010)
“Jumpin Jack Flash” by Pen­ny Mar­shall (1986)
“Just Anoth­er Girl on the IRT” by Leslie Har­ris (1992)
“Just Wright” by Sanaa Ham­ri (2010)
“Kama Sutra” by Mira Nair (1996)
“Los­ing Ground” by Kath­leen Collins (1982)
“Love & Bas­ket­ball” by Gina Prince-Bythe­wood (2000)
“Luck by Chance” by Zoya Akhtar (2009)
“Mi Vida Loca” by Alli­son Anders (1993)
“Mid­dle of Nowhere” by Ava DuVer­nay (2012)
“Mis­sis­sip­pi Damned” by Tina Mabry (2009)
“Mis­sis­sip­pi Masala” by Mira Nair (1991)
“Mix­ing Nia” by Ali­son Swan (1998)
“Mon­soon Wed­ding” by Mira Nair (2001)
“Mosqui­ta y Mari” by Auro­ra Guer­rero (2012)
“Na-moo-eobs-neun san (Tree­less Moun­tain)” by So-yong Kim (2008)
“Night Catch­es Us” by Tanya Hamil­ton (2010)
“Pari­ah” by Dee Rees (2011)
“Pic­ture Bride” by Kayo Hat­ta (1994)
“Rain” by Maria Gov­an (2008)
“Real Women Have Curves” by Patri­cia Car­doso (2002)
“Sav­ing Face” by Alice Wu (2004)
“Sec­ond Com­ing” by Deb­bie Tuck­er Green (2014)
“Some­thing Nec­es­sary” by Judy Kibinge (2013)
“Some­thing New” by Sanaa Ham­ri (2006)
“Still the Water” by Nao­mi Kawase  (2014)
“Stranger Inside” by Cheryl Dun­ye (2001)
“Sug­ar Cane Alley/Black Shack Alley” by Euzhan Pal­cy (1983)
“The Kite” by Ran­da Cha­hal Sabag (2003)
“The Rich Man’s Wife” by Amy Hold­en Jones (1996)
“The Secret Life of Bees” by Gina Prince-Bythe­wood (2008)
“The Silence of the Palace” by Moufi­da Tlatli (1994)
“The Water­mel­on Woman” by Cheryl Dun­ye (1996)
“The Women of Brew­ster Place” by Don­na Deitch (1989)
“Their Eyes Were Watch­ing God” by Dar­nell Mar­tin (2005)
“Things We Lost in the Fire” by Susanne Bier  (2007)
“Wad­j­da” by Haifaa Al-Man­sour (2012)
“Water” by Deepa Mehta (2005)
“Whale Rid­er” by Niki Caro  (2002)
“What’s Cook­ing?” by Gurinder Chad­ha (2000)
“Where Do We Go Now?” by Nadine Laba­ki  (2011)
“Whit­ney” by Angela Bas­sett (2015)
“Woman Thou Art Loosed: On The 7th Day” by Neema Bar­nette (2012)
“Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl” by Joan Chen (1998)
“Yelling to the Sky” by Vic­to­ria Mahoney (2011)
“Young and Wild” by Mar­i­aly Rivas (2012)

via Indiewire

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Spike Lee’s List of 95 Essen­tial Movies – Now with Women Film­mak­ers

The 10 Great­est Films of All Time Accord­ing to 358 Film­mak­ers

725 Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, etc. 

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The Art from David Bowie’s Final Album, Blackstar, is Now Free for Fans to Download and Reuse


Jonathan Barn­brook, the British graph­ic design­er who cre­at­ed the cov­er art for sev­er­al of David Bowie’s more recent albums, had his cre­ative stu­dio issue an announce­ment on Face­book today, one which will sure­ly please many:

Barn­brook loved work­ing with David Bowie, he was sim­ply one of the most inspi­ra­tional, kind peo­ple we have met. So in the spir­it of open­ness and in remem­brance of David we are releas­ing the art­work ele­ments of his last album ★ (Black­star) to down­load here free under a Cre­ative Com­mons Non­Com­mer­cial-Share­Alike licence. That means you can make t‑shirts for your­self, use them for tat­toos, put them up in your house to remem­ber David by and adapt them too, but we would ask that you do not in any way cre­ate or sell com­mer­cial prod­ucts with them or based on them.

Barn­brook was the cre­ative force behind Hea­then (2002), Real­i­ty (2003) and The Next Day (2013). In this in-depth inter­view, the design­er talks about his approach to cre­at­ing a visu­al lan­guage for Black­star, whose design ele­ments can now be freely down­loaded here.

via Pitch­fork

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dave: The Best Trib­ute to David Bowie That You’re Going to See

David Bowie Releas­es 36 Music Videos of His Clas­sic Songs from the 1970s and 1980s

David Bowie Lists His 25 Favorite LPs in His Record Col­lec­tion: Stream Most of Them Free Online

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

An Animated Introduction to Goethe, Germany’s “Renaissance Man”

We all know the name Goethe — some of us even know the full name, Johann Wolf­gang von Goethe. I’ve nev­er lived in the renowned 18th- and 19th-cen­tu­ry writer, politi­cian, and cul­tur­al poly­math­’s home­land of Ger­many, but even when I lived in Los Ange­les, I reg­u­lar­ly went to my local branch of the Goethe-Insti­tute for Ger­man cul­tur­al events. Even in Korea, where I live now, Goethe has left a wide if shal­low mark: you can see The Sor­rows of Young Werther in the form of an elab­o­rate stage musi­cal, for instance, and buy almost all the goods you need in life from the enor­mous con­glom­er­ate named after the young lady on whom Werther con­cen­trates his doomed affec­tions, Lotte.

But why, more than 180 years after Goethe’s death, does his name still come up in so many dif­fer­ent con­texts? And giv­en that, why do so many of us know so lit­tle about his long, var­ied, col­or­ful, and high­ly pro­duc­tive life and career? This sounds like a job for the video wing of Alain de Bot­ton’s School of Life, whose short primers con­tin­ue to bring us up to speed on why the lega­cies of so many cul­tur­al fig­ures (with one sec­tion giv­en over to the lit­er­ary) have endured, or should endure. “Goethe is one of the great minds of Euro­pean civil­i­sa­tion, though his work is large­ly unknown out­side of the Ger­man speak­ing coun­tries,” says de Bot­ton in their video on Goethe: “He deserves our renewed atten­tion.”

To fill out the details pro­vid­ed in the School of Life’s video, you can read an overview of Goethe’s career (includ­ing details on the prop­er pro­nun­ci­a­tion of his name) in the accom­pa­ny­ing Book of Life entry online. It tells the sto­ry of not just Young Werther’s cre­ator, but “one of Europe’s big cul­tur­al heroes – com­pa­ra­ble to the likes of Shake­speare, Dante and Homer,” skilled in let­ters, of course, but also in “phys­i­ol­o­gy, geol­o­gy, botany and optics,” who also spent stretch­es of his career as “a diplo­mat, fash­ion guru, a senior civ­il ser­vant, a pornog­ra­ph­er, the head of a uni­ver­si­ty, a fine artist, an adven­tur­ous trav­eller, the direc­tor of a the­atre com­pa­ny and the head of a min­ing com­pa­ny.”

We might call Goethe, inso­far as he devel­oped his own mas­tery, span­ning so much of the human expe­ri­ence, a Renais­sance man out of time — but one who, in his way, out­did even the actu­al men of the Renais­sance. “We have so much to learn from him,” adds the Book of Life. “We don’t often hear peo­ple declar­ing a wish to be a lit­tle more like ‘Goethe.’ But if we did, the world would be a more vibrant and humane place.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Goethe’s The­o­ry of Col­ors: The 1810 Trea­tise That Inspired Kandin­sky & Ear­ly Abstract Paint­ing

The Tale of the Fox: Watch Ladis­las Starevich’s Ani­ma­tion of Goethe’s Great Ger­man Folk­tale (1937)

The Death Masks of Great Authors: Dante, Goethe, Tol­stoy, Joyce & More

Har­ry Clarke’s 1926 Illus­tra­tions of Goethe’s Faust: Art That Inspired the Psy­che­del­ic 60s

Eugène Delacroix Illus­trates Goethe’s Faust, “One of the Very Great­est of All Illus­trat­ed Books”

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Stephen Hawking & Actor Paul Rudd Play an Epic Game of Quantum Chess, Narrated by Keanu Reeves

The Insti­tute for Quan­tum Infor­ma­tion and Mat­ter (IQIM) at Cal­tech post­ed on its YouTube chan­nel today a fun lit­tle video called “Any­one Can Quantum”–the “Any­one” prob­a­bly refer­ring to actor Paul Rudd, who takes on Stephen Hawk­ing in a game of Quan­tum Chess, nar­rat­ed by Keanu Reeves. Quan­tum Chess, a made-up thing, a gim­mick, you say? Not so appar­ent­ly. It’s a thing.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Psy­che­del­ic Ani­ma­tion Takes You Inside the Mind of Stephen Hawk­ing

Down­load the Soft­ware That Pro­vides Stephen Hawking’s Voice

Stephen Hawking’s Big Ideas Explained with Sim­ple Ani­ma­tion

Free Online Physics Cours­es

Rare Video Captures 29-Year-Old Luciano Pavarotti in One of His Earliest Recorded Performances (1964)

Some­times it’s hard to believe that cer­tain enter­tain­ers did not arrive ful­ly formed with their famous look already part of the act. It’s still weird to me, for exam­ple, to see very ear­ly George Car­lin, look­ing like a nephew to the but­ton-down com­e­dy of Bob Newhart. You might get the same shock see­ing this very early—possibly the first, but not verified—televised appear­ance of mas­ter tenor Luciano Pavarot­ti.

In this archived clip from Sovi­et tele­vi­sion, the future opera super­star looks more like come­di­an Jack­ie Glea­son than the beard­ed, icon­ic fig­ure he would become. Those eye­brows are work­ing over­time, though.

The year is 1964, only three years after his pro­fes­sion­al debut in a region­al Ital­ian opera house, where he played the lead, Rodol­fo, in a pro­duc­tion of La Boheme. It was also a year after his first major accom­plish­ment, sup­port­ing and singing with Joan Suther­land on an Aus­tralian tour. He was yet to have an Amer­i­can pre­miere, and was still try­ing to make a name for him­self.

This above clip, a jaun­ty and con­fi­dent take on Verdi’s “La Don­na e Mobile” from Rigo­let­to, shows all the youth­ful promise in his 29-year-old voice. Com­pare and con­trast below his 1982 ver­sion from Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s film ver­sion of the opera. It’s sweet­er and Pavarot­ti has less to prove, firm­ly estab­lished in the fir­ma­ment of singing stars. The song remains the same, but this ear­ly glimpse into Pavarotti’s career shows he knew he was going places, but just need­ed that chance to prove it.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Pavarot­ti Sings with Lou Reed, Sting, James Brown and Oth­er Friends

New Web Site, “The Opera Plat­form,” Lets You Watch La Travi­a­ta and Oth­er First-Class Operas Free Online

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Sci­ence of Opera,” a Dis­cus­sion of How Music Moves Us Phys­i­cal­ly to Tears

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Stephen Hawking’s New Lecture, “Do Black Holes Have No Hair?,” Animated with Chalkboard Illustrations

You can now hear in full on the BBC’s web­site the first part of Stephen Hawk­ing’s 2016 Rei­th Lec­ture—“Do Black Holes Have No Hair?” Just above, lis­ten to Hawk­ing’s lec­ture while you fol­low along with an ani­mat­ed chalk­board on which artist Andrew Park sketch­es out the key points in help­ful images and dia­grams. We alert­ed you to the com­ing lec­ture this past Tues­day, and we also point­ed you toward the paper Hawk­ing recent­ly post­ed online, “Soft Hair on Black Holes,” co-authored with Mal­colm J. Per­ry and Andrew Stro­minger. There, Hawk­ing argues that black holes may indeed have “hair,” or waves of zero-ener­gy par­ti­cles that store infor­ma­tion pre­vi­ous­ly thought lost.

The arti­cle is tough going for any­one with­out a back­ground in the­o­ret­i­cal physics, but Hawk­ing’s talk above makes these ideas approach­able, with­out dumb­ing them down. He has a win­ning way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with every­day exam­ples and wit­ti­cisms, and Park’s illus­tra­tions fur­ther help make sense of things. Hawk­ing begins with a brief his­to­ry of black hole the­o­ry, then builds slow­ly to his the­sis: as the BBC puts it, rather than see black holes as “scary, destruc­tive and dark he says if prop­er­ly under­stood, they could unlock the deep­est secrets of the cos­mos.”

Hawk­ing is intro­duced by BBC broad­cast­er Sue Law­ley, who also chairs a ques­tion-and-answer ses­sion (in the full lec­ture audio) with a few select Radio 4 lis­ten­ers whose ques­tions Hawk­ing chose from hun­dreds sub­mit­ted to the BBC. Stay tuned for Part Two, which should come online short­ly after Tues­day’s broad­cast.

The short ani­mat­ed video above gives us a tan­ta­liz­ing excerpt from Hawk­ing’s sec­ond talk. “If you feel you are in a black hole,” he says reas­sur­ing­ly, “don’t give up. There’s a way out.” That nice lit­tle aside is but one of many col­or­ful ways Hawk­ing has of express­ing him­self when dis­cussing the the­o­ret­i­cal physics of black holes, a sub­ject that could turn dead­ly seri­ous, and—speaking for myself—incomprehensible. As far as I know, black holes work in the real uni­verse just like they do in Inter­stel­lar.

I kid, but there is, how­ev­er, at least one way in which Christo­pher Nolan’s apoc­a­lyp­tic space fan­ta­sy with its improb­a­bly hap­py end­ing may not be total hokum: as Hawk­ing the­o­rizes above, cer­tain par­ti­cles (or anti-par­ti­cles) may escape from a black hole, “to infin­i­ty,” he says, or “pos­si­bly to anoth­er uni­verse.” The main idea, says Hawk­ing, is that black holes “are not the eter­nal pris­ons they were once thought.” Or, in oth­er words, “black holes ain’t as black as they are paint­ed,” which also hap­pens to be the title of his next talk. Stay tuned: we’ll bring you more of Hawk­ing’s fas­ci­nat­ing black hole the­o­ry soon.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Psy­che­del­ic Ani­ma­tion Takes You Inside the Mind of Stephen Hawk­ing

The Big Ideas of Stephen Hawk­ing Explained with Sim­ple Ani­ma­tion

Watch A Brief His­to­ry of Time, Errol Mor­ris’ Film About the Life & Work of Stephen Hawk­ing

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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