Sketch Chemistry: The Ones that Never Made It

When I first started doing Sketch Chemistry, I really had no idea what was suitable for c&en. The only thing I knew was that I needed to deliver material that was not dirty or violent, suited to a wide audience, possibly addressing topical events, and a lot higher quality that the scrappy ChemScrapes material.


So I invested in Clip Studio Paint and tried to lift my game. It was my first time ever working with layers and proper drawing software, so I had a lot to learn (I still do). I had already generated a pipeline of ideas and decided to work up the ones I considered to be more promising. Out of the six advanced cartoons I subsequently submitted over time, not a single one made the cut! I didn't mind so much because this was a small part of the initial pipeline, and it gave me some much needed drawing practice using my new software. These six cartoons appear below with a brief explanation of their rejection.

Shifty Sidearm Salesman: The side arms are not easily made out and the joke was unfocussed - the posters were distracting. Also, a bit sensitive because can be easily linked to illegal gun sales. Clearly drawn at the time U2 announced their 2017 Joshua Tree Tour.


Merger: This was soon after Dow and DuPont merged and before Corteva took off. At the time there was also talk of other significant mergers in the ecosystem. This cartoon basically projected the future state where all the major chemical players had merged into one and their boards were therefore redundant. It almost made it to publication. In fact the line "No-one does Chemistry.......like us!" was Lauren Wolf's. It was always just "almost there" because it lacked the visual humour of the molecules and glassware. It is just boring.


Chain Carrier: Groan! Enough said. Too cringy for Sketch Chemistry.


Sand Box: This one was drawn soon after Trump took office in 2017 and started slashing cuts to research and removing regulations protecting the environment. It was actually written in response to a c&en article, which mentioned the "shrinking sandbox" of science funding under the new Trump administration. Represented here is energy research (solar panel), med chem (tamiflu), genetic engineering (chromosome) and stem cell research (the cell). They all want to play, but can't. It was a bit too political for what was meant to be a light hearted panel.

TPP: Again, soon after Trump took office in 2017 he targeted the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. TPP is also triphenylphosphine, so this was just a play on words. Again, it was probably a bit too political for Sketch Chemistry. This is where I learned that the cartoons in Sketch Chemistry have to stand the test of time. If someone ever goes back through issues/archives, the joke has to be stand alone without needing to be researched to understand it. This cartoon represents the last of the political/current affairs submissions to Sketch Chemistry.

Spidersilk encapsulation: This one was drawn in response to a story about using spidersilk biopolymers to do encapsulation. I simply thought that this was nothing new, spiders have been doing encapsulation since forever. This one didn't get accepted because I would basically have to call each reader to explain the joke to them!