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I'm writing this off-the-cuff so don't read too much into it if you don't want to.

I love this trend of using comics to describe technical ideas (which, as far as I can tell, started in earnest with Julia Evans). I think it's a great way to remove some of the scaryness-factor that more serious tomes (like Cormen et al) are associated to. I don't think the niche is nearly reaching oversaturation. I think there is plenty of room for these kinds of books in this space. Personally, however, I probably wouldn't get much value from a book on the very basic algorithms, like selection sort etc. What I really would like is a good description of the algorithms and data structures that are described in more advanced courses, like Fenwick trees or the stuff Erik Demaine talks about in his more advanced presentations.

If you're not aiming for this to be a book for people who're accustomed to the basics, however, and more a book for people who maybe know how to code but who identify themselves more as practitioners than as theorists (meaning they're intimidated or bored by algorithms) then my main reaction is that the thing you've shown so far seems to (1) have a great visual appeal, but (2) suffers in that it does not provide implementations of the algorithms in actual code. If I think back to myself as a beginner, what I probably would have needed help with looking at your thing would have been the translation from the example and little pseudo-code on the left to actual code.

> I love this trend of using comics to describe technical ideas (which, as far as I can tell, started in earnest with Julia Evans).

Julia deserves a ton of credit, but I think it's also important to remember whytheluckystiff's "Poignant Guide to Ruby" [1]. Going even farther back, Forrest M Mims' electronics books [2], which I remember being sold in Radio Shacks, get much of their fame and familiarity from being hand-written.

[1]: https://poignant.guide/ [2]: https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Started-Electronics-Forrest-M...

Also, "Starting Forth" by Leo Brodie is the earliest computer-related version of teaching with comics I can remember reading. It came out around 1981 and you can find an online version (including most of the original illustrations) here: https://www.forth.com/starting-forth/0-starting-forth/

Forrest Mims III taught me electronics as a teenager. Also Larry Gonick really rounded out my rusty calculus knowledge with his "Cartoon Guide to Calculus" [0] This is just the product page, no stupid referral on the link.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Cartoon-Guide-Calculus/dp/0061689092

I was about to post Gonick's guide to physics. Fantastic series.

Wow, he has many cartoon guides (stats, chemistry, algebra, history..) Check this out https://www.amazon.com/Larry-Gonick/e/B000AQ75IY/ref=dp_byli... Thanks!

I remember this going back at least to The Little Lisper, though they more accompany the text than serve as explanations themselves. The aesthetic certainly leaks into the lessons.

Another, from 1978: 'A Fortran Coloring Book' https://archive.org/details/9780262610261

There's also the SELinux Colouring Book by Dan Walsh and Mairin Duffy.

To expand on this from the perspective of a student, I primarily study mathematics but will be pursing a double in math and cs, and I actually enjoy very rigorous (what some people may call dry or intimidating) textbooks in both fields because I am generally quite pedantic. However, that being said, I would love a book like this not necessarily as a main source of the actual information I am learning, but rather as a fun visual aid or activity because I like coloring and actually do it rather often. Further, I think active engagement could provide other kinds of benefits. As the parent comment noted, pictures themselves may not teach you the algorithm in its entirety from scratch, but in interview situations, I can see the possibility of getting tripped up on things that you maybe "kind of" know the answer to, and having vivid diagrams or models in mind that you can jump to (e.g. these pictures) may help with things like recall. I actually find things like this to be immensely helpful in every class, from using mnemonics for memorizing Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji to breaking down complex proofs of math theorems into discrete memorable steps to give me an intuition for why and how things work, etc. I think this could both be a great supplemental tool for certain kinds of students as well as a very fun book to color in! I will certainly buy one if this idea comes to fruition.

Oh, forgot to mention if you want me to notify you when the book comes out, I put together a simple mailing list at coderscoloringbook.com. Thanks

Specifically with calculus, I found "The Cartoon Guide to Calculus" by Larry Gonick [0] to be quite memorable and fun! Note: There is no stupid referral on this link.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Cartoon-Guide-Calculus/dp/0061689092

I agree on all counts. Thanks for the support!

When it comes to comics, No Starch Press (https://www.nostarch.com/catalog/manga) has manga/comics that describes advanced ideas in a fun way. A Manga Guide to Algorithms and Data Structures sounds like a great addition to the collection

Actually the founder of No Starch reached out to me about publishing this book. Will definitely be following up with him =)

I'll buy it. Please do! I really like the idea of being able to share this with people just getting started who find algorithms intimidating (we're not all math double majors :P). It probably can't serve as a primary source of material but is a great supplement.

Grokking Algorithms by Aditya Bhargava is something I skim for fun occasionally and this seems like a great complement!

Awesome! If you want me to notify you when the book comes out, I put together a simple mailing list at coderscoloringbook.com. Thanks

Thanks! I already signed up!

I second this. Love the idea.

Yes, please do :)

Sorry for the radio silence, Bill. Let's sync up once I have more content and am starting to think about production!

I think it started earlier (around 2008) with Scott McCloud doing a comic describing the architecture of the (then newly introduced) Chrome browser, especially the innovation of running each tab in a separate process - http://www.scottmccloud.com/googlechrome/

Scott McCloud is the Marshall McLuhan of Comic Art!

"McCloud" is congruent with "McLuhan", as "Understanding Comics" is congruent with "Understanding Media".


glad to learn about him! i appreciate the artistically inclined visually explaining technical things. i also love randall munroe (xkcd author)'s thing explainer.

How DNS works is a favorite of mine: https://howdns.works/

There's another — extremely NSFW — version on Encyclopedia Dramatica. "DNS comic" should find it...

Roger Kaufman's FORTRAN Coloring Book was published by MIT press in 1978.

Yes! Touted on the cover as the "1st & last edition".

There are two versions of page 111, with an apology (and an apology for the apology) if you thought the first was offensive.

There is also Illustrating Basic (1977) and Illustrating FORTRAN (1982) by Donald Alcock from Cambridge University Press. [edited to fix publishing dates]

Thanks so much for the feedback! I think you're right that something like this would be a better learning tool for someone who is new to the fundamentals, rather than experienced software professionals. And I've heard from a few people now about adding code/pseudocode to match the visuals. I'll have to give that a try in the next iteration!

I prefer the visual representation. I find algorithms very hard to read as code, but I'm fascinated by the concepts.

> which, as far as I can tell, started in earnest with Julia Evans

Sacha Chua <http://sachachua.com/blog/> used to do this way earlier than Julia Evans.

No flame though, just wanted to point this out.

I remember really loving Oreilly's "Head First" series of intro web programming books [0]. The way they laid things out in a relatable fashion really stuck with me as a beginner programmer. There's definitely a lot to be said for losing the ego and "dumbing" things down to easily digested formats so long as it's being done by an expert.

https://www.amazon.com/Head-First-JavaScript-Programming-Bra... [0]


I was playing Human Resource Machine and implemented a linked list in assembly without even realising it. Once I did, I first felt so smart that I had to brag about it, and I also thought, "that wasn't so scary..."

I recently started a web comic series on my personal site that covers all sorts of technical topics. I'm having a blast creating it and one my favorites so far is http://randomlyunique.com/plancky/2017/what-makes-a-clock-ti... I wished more content existed between "nova special" and "advanced textbook"

Do you have a link to Julia's stuff?

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