contaminated water and alcohol

This is a bit of a spoiler for my story Lounger, so fair warning.

A few weeks ago, I was reading Edward Tufte’s excellent book Envisioning Explanations (shout out to libraries!), and in the first chapter Tufte discusses the story of John Snow and the Broad Street water pump. Tufte uses it to showcase the importance of well-crafted graphics and how, in some cases, they can actually save lives. But it’s also a story about research and rigorous critical method.

John Snow thought that the Broad Street water pump was the source of a cholera outbreak and used data to show that people who used the pump got sick. Yet he also tracked down outliers. First, he looked up the people who got cholera but who were nowhere near the pump and found, in every instance, that those people had actually gotten water from that pump in some way. Second, he looked into the people who were near the pump, but who didn’t get sick. He found that these people didn’t use the water at the Broad Street pump. So the evidence that initially seemed to disprove his theory actually ended up reinforcing it.

But in terms of Lounger, it is interesting to look at why the people who were near the water pump didn’t get cholera.

They drank alcohol instead of water.

I came up with the idea for the ending of Lounger long before I learned of the story of John Snow and the Broad Street pump, but part of me wonders if I heard about it or a similar instance somewhere in the past. Either way, it was a surprising coincidence to read about this piece of history just as I was finishing drawing Lounger.

And since we’re on the topic, you can get digital editions of the color version through ComiXology.

The full print version should be available soon. Maybe October?

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