Without Warning! (Earthquake, Tsunami) – Jeremy Barlow, Althea Rizzo, Dan Schkade

4 out of 5

I really don’t know what drove me to download this free educational comic – there are free offerings a’plenty, so it’s not just that – but, regardless, I did, and I was sincerely quite impressed by it: writers Jeremy Barlow and Althea Rizzo (with some localization added by Dan Schkade in one of the Earthquake editions) to a good job of balancing the tone so that it’s informative without being preachy, and relatively realistic for its youth-targeted audience without being overly pandering. The “easy” way to do this kind of stuff is to have some hip rad skateboarder co-opting meme talk and then pausing to present really dry charts and graphs about SAFETY, bros, but Without Warning! instead steps through (in brief – also a wise decision) the after-effects of its featured calamity – both issues are actually about earthquakes, but the tsunami issue focuses on that particular aspect – and shows some Rights and Wrongs without being blatant about it, focusing around a main character or two as they get to safety. In other words: it actually reads like a freaking comic book, with solid, expressive art from David Hahn.

The Earthquake issue interestingly has a few versions that change some minor details to make more sense depending on where you’re located (since the first things you might watch out for could differ if you’re in a coastal city versus a land-locked one), and I really appreciated this – it’s further suggestive of the slightly more “let’s write this so people read it” nature of the issues, whereas most educational stuff is, unfortunately, very work-for-hire filler. Barlow and etc. might’ve indeed been work-for-hire, but again, it doesn’t necessarily read that way.

The tsunami issue is a little lesser – it does have a page of the “pause and explain” method, and isn’t quite as well-rounded tonally as the earthquake-centric one, but both books are readable, and legitimately educational, for those of us who need a refresher on what to do in such scenarios.

Both issues include extra pages with a list of references and some concise, scientific explanations of the events and their related terminology.