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Marvel and DC comic book writers team up with UCLan in the name of science

13 November 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

University lecturer immortalised as superhero

   

 

Two comic book writers who have created some of Marvel and DC Comics’ world famous characters have teamed up with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for a superhero inspired science project.

Andy Lanning and Anthony Williams have over the last 25 years illustrated and written The Avengers, Batman, Captain America, Superman, Iron Man and X-Men comics to name a few. Now they’ve used their talents to give UCLan a Gotham City style make-over and turned engineering lecturer Matt Dickinson into a superhero character as part of a national schools’ science competition.

Matt is the main character in the Hero Lab comic who is turned into two characters; superhero Mecha-man and super villain Doktor Darkness, after being struck by lightning while working in his lab. Primary school age children are being encouraged to create 10 new characters for the final story that will help the nemeses fight each other. The only requirement is that any super powers must be based in real-life science.

“Relating science to magical super powers will allow us to share some really detailed information on a level that primary school children will not only understand but be inspired by.”

hero lab

Computer aided engineering lecturer Matt commented: “We want to demonstrate the power of science and the impact it can have on everyday life; the sea cucumber for instance when completely severed will re-stitch itself like Wolverine’s healing capabilities.

“Relating science to magical super powers will allow us to share some really detailed information on a level that primary school children will not only understand but be inspired by.”

A team of engineers will also work on the project providing online materials that children can access as part of their research into what science fact rather than science fiction can be applied to the characters’ super powers.

Dr Jo Heaton-Marriott, Public Engagement Manager at UCLan, is co-ordinating the Hero Lab project and will also be included as a character in the comic book.

“UCLan has a long history of community engagement. Through this latest project we hope to debunk stereotypes about engineering and show the breadth and depth of engineering research in the UK."

Dr Jo Heaton-Marriott said: “UCLan has a long history of community engagement. Through this latest project we hope to debunk stereotypes about engineering and show the breadth and depth of engineering research in the UK. The comic book will allow primary school children to explore cutting-edge research and fuel their imagination.”

Writer Andy Lanning said: “It’s an exciting concept to develop new characters grounded in real life engineering. Working with Matt and the team has been really insightful and has given us some fantastic ideas for Herolab; we are looking forward to seeing what the children come up with.”

To enter the competition children can visit www.herolab.co.uk for an entry form and choose whether they want to join Mecha-Man in creating the next generation of superheroes or join Doktor Darkness in his Vault of Villains.

The ten winners will see their characters developed by the two comic book artists to play a starring role in the Hero Lab comic. They will also receive signed artwork of their characters.

The Hero Lab project has been funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering as a follow-up to the successful Science of Superheroes show run by Matt Dickinson over the last three years where the lecturer shared the science fact behind the science fiction of many well-known characters such as Spiderman, Wolverine and Iron Man.