Four years ago, after more than a decade of drawing the popular online comic Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD for short), former engineer Jorge Cham jumped to the big screen, enlisting an ensemble of California Institute of Technology in Pasadena researchers to produce and star in a movie version of his cartoon depicting the trials and tribulation of being a graduate student in the sciences. Now, a follow-up film is coming out next month. In an email exchange, Science caught up with Cham and learned a few details about the sequel. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Why go through the insanity of a making a film again?
A: As hard and risky as it is to pull off these kinds of projects, it's also very gratifying artistically to work with so many people and create something together. I just didn't think it was possible, or that there was enough demand for it. I think the main catalyst was the increasing number of PHD comics fans who would approach me at events and ask if there was going to be a sequel. Then, when one of the stars of the movie, Alex Lockwood, told me she was graduating and leaving the country, it dawned on me that this would be the last chance to do any kind of followup.
Q: In Hollywood, sequels are typically bigger and louder. Are there more characters and explosions in your sequel?
A: There aren't any explosions, but there are definitely more characters. My approach to writing this movie was to progress the characters and put them in new and interesting situations. For both of the main characters in the movie, that meant going out and interacting with a larger part of the world of academia. So, one...Continue Reading »