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The World's Smallest Comic Is Etched On A Human Hair

Each panel is about 25 micro-meters in length. Comic Book Guy's mind would explode.

by Zach Sokol
May 6 2014, 3:20pm

On June 27th, EHSM2"the most cutting-edge DIY and open-source conference" for hackers and makers, begins in Hamburg. To promote the event, some organizing members collaborated to create a comic strip that you wouldn't even find in Comic Book Guy's rarity-filled shop: the world's smallest comic, etched onto a single human hair. 

The hair-comic (titled Juana Knits The Planetincludes 12 frames over two rows. Each frame is about 25 micrometers, which makes sense, as the average human hair is about 80 micrometers in diameter. Its plot involves the titular character engaging in a variety of playful acts. Hey, it's no Sandman, but we hope this is a first step to getting Neil Gaiman to work with micro-canvases—after all, look at his hair.

Like Vik Muniz and Marcelo Coelho's process of drawing sand castles on single grains of sand, the comic was made using a focused ion beam (FIB), where a sharp jet of matter thinner and more delicate than a laser beam was implemented to carve into the hair. In the sand castle set-up, the FIB used two screens—one to frame the image and depict the electrons needed to see the surface; one to display the ions which etch the surface—and it's possible the EHSM2 followed suit. The project page notes that Andrew Zonenberg oversaw the FIB work using Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's FEI Versa 3D.

In our documentary on Muniz and dCoelho, the latter noted "There's a whole new kind of [art] emerging now. A lot of it is happening because of this combination between computers and cameras, and [innovative] storytelling and narratives can emerge as a result." Whether it's a single grain of sand, or a human hair, our preconceived notions of what can constitute a canvas are changing on a near-weekly basis. The mind reels at a project where an entire graphic novel was etched onto the entire coiffure of a given subject.

See some images from the world's smallest comic below:

Images via

Comic art by Claudia Puhlfürst

FIB Work by Andrew Zonenberg

Find out more about EHSM2 here.


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Juana Knits The Planet
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