Zebra Force
and the Island
of Dr. Z!

About Zebra Force

Shockoe Artspace has a deep desire to see students succeed as artists and makers. The combination of this desire and a curiosity into childhood diseases led us to assemble a diverse, volunteer team of scientists, artists and illustrators to help teach children the science behind diseases through the power of an illustrated narrative framework.

While the book combines science and art into an integrated curriculum tool, Zebra Force is not just about conveying knowledge. It accomplishes two other goals as well: 1) it promotes radical collaboration between seemingly unconnected people to showcase the power of diversity, and 2) it humanizes the process by which caregivers and patients connect in the high-stress environment of childhood diseases.

Radical collaboration was of primary importance. The individuals who make up the team were not just chosen because of their skill or ability, but were brought together to push against cultural stereotypes of who we expect to be research scientists, artists or scientific illustrators. 

The relationship between doctor and patient is always difficult to navigate, especially with a topic as weighty as childhood diseases. The patients may not fully understand what is going on and the doctors may not have all the tools to adequately create a hospitable, personal environment. Zebra Force acts as a bridge between caregiver and patient as well as the patient’s family. The lighthearted tale of friends centered around the assumed fear of a doctor shows children that science is helpful and that doctors can be a strong friend. 

Most coloring books require little by way of thinking, but a coloring/comic book demands children to experience and internalize the content at a deeper, slower rate. This helps with information retention, but it also creates a more personal connection with the content. 

Zebra Force and the Island of Dr. Z! is the first in a series of educational coloring/comic books that showcase the specific power of art and science.