BYU professor creates ‘Strange Quarks’ comic strip

Strange Quark comic strips. The comic strips are published on Professor Durfee’s website every day at midnight. (Dallin Durfee)

During the day, he’s a BYU professor in the physics and astronomy department. At home, his life takes a comic turn.

BYU professor Dallin Durfee has been creating and publishing funny, sometimes nerdy, daily comics on his website Strange Quark for the last six years. A code on the server posts a new comic on the website at midnight everyday.

The comic strips are representations of everyday situations and of what life is like as a nerd. “It’s about some nerdy people and things that happen to them and how they interact with each other,” Durfee said.

Some of his comics require some science knowledge to be understood, but Durfee said he tries to make it appealing to everyone. “Characters are nerds mostly and science topics come up a lot, but it shows all aspects of life. I try to make it family friendly. Even my teenage daughter and 8 year old enjoy reading them,” Durfee said.

Adam Kingsley, one of Durfee’s research students said he enjoys reading the comics. “Some of the comic strips are worth reading over and over again because of the levels of humor,” he said.

Durfee said he finds inspiration all around him, often while he commutes to work. He also gets comic ideas from funny things his kids do. He said his comics help him express himself and are a way for him to exteriorize his frustration in some situations.

“I make these comics mainly for fun. I enjoy doing it,” Durfee said. “I also hope it can make people stop and think about something.”

Strange Quark comic strips. The comic strips are representations of everyday situations and of what life is like as a nerd. (Dallin Durfee)

Durfee said when he started the comics in 2009, he used to hand draw them. He now uses a program called Pov-Ray to help him create his illustrations. He programs his own codes to create his drawings and often updates them to diversify the characters and sceneries.

His comics have drawn the attention of many on social media and his Facebook fan page has regularly posted comics.

“I love reading the comics. Some I can relate to and it makes me smile or laugh my butt off. I don’t understand a small percent of them but I still love them,”  said Ada Sowby, a Strange Quark fan.

A Twitter fan named Mike Marlow described Strange Quarks comics as “science made funny every day.” Irene Helenowski, another online fan, said these comics “will strangely make your day every time.”

David Brin, an American scientist and science-fiction award-winning author, mentioned Strange Quark comics on his blog as part of his top choices in science-oriented WebComics.

The comics also made their way to Youtube in a video about physic applets and ways to help teach physics. The comics appear at about minute 32 on the video.

Strange Quark comic strips. The comics gather fans on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. (Dallin Durfee)

Durfee continues to work on his comics and hopes one day he can get his comics out to more people.

“Dr Durfee works extremely hard on a hobby that is not typical for a professor never mind one in the physics department,” Kingsley said. “That makes him more relatable and approachable as I am deciding where my career will go and it lets me know that my hobbies can still be a part of who I am.”

The comics made their first appearance in The Universe on December 2014 and will be back in The Universe this semester.


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