Comic book tells the story of ignition

John Jett presents a new comic book about ignition (Download Image)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) artist John Jett presents a new comic book about ignition to students attending a STEM Day event at the Lab. (Photo by Garry McLeod/LLNL)


A new comic book from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) illustrator John Jett tells the story of how a Lab experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) made history.

This 2024 issue of Ignition is an exciting sequel to Jett’s award-winning comic book, released in 2018, that made the scientific research conducted at NIF accessible to a broad range of audiences.

The cover of Ignition. (Credit: John Jett)

“Comics have a way of breaking through technical complexity and helping a broad audience understand why the Lab’s work matters,” said Jett, a group leader in LLNL’s Technical Information Department working for the NIF and Photon Science Directorate. “It’s a privilege to help the next generation of STEM leaders learn how they can make a difference in the world.”

Download the Ignition PDF here.

Ignition follows the Lab’s historic achievement of fusion ignition on Dec. 5, 2022, in which an experiment at NIF generated more fusion energy than was delivered by the facility’s 192 lasers.

This feat, never before achieved in a laboratory setting, has opened new horizons for national security, basic science and fusion energy research. NIF experiments have since repeated ignition multiple times at higher energy levels.

The new edition of Ignition was first released on April 19 during the Lab’s 2024 STEM Day, which welcomed more than 200 students from local schools to view science demonstrations and STEM exhibits as well as tour select facilities, including NIF.

Jett, who is part of a team of Lab artists, writers, editors and other creative communicators, told the students that he always loved drawing, and created the comic book because he could use his skills to convey how the achievement of ignition was “going to benefit everybody in this room, everybody on this planet.

“One of the biggest challenges that we have at the Lab is how to communicate what we do and why we do it, to our sponsors, to our workforce, and to our community,” he said. “It’s our job to tell that story.”

He encouraged the students to also find what they loved to do. “The secret,” Jett said, “is just one thing. You study what you love, and you practice. That’s it. You just keep at it. And if you want, there are opportunities in your own backyard to do what you love in service of something bigger than yourself.”

A limited supply of Ignition will be available at Fantasy Books and Games in downtown Livermore as a giveaway for Free Comic Day on Saturday, May 4.

— Thomas Lynch