“The Curie Society” empowers with a new generation of heroic characters

Female scientists who use STEM skills to solve mysteries at forefront of YA graphic novel from MIT Press


Courtesy MIT Press

“The Curie Society,” created by Heather Einhorn and Adam Staffaroni, follows young female scientists in their mission to protect the world. The pair set out to create a story that would provide representation for women in STEM. “Part of it was also, from a storytelling perspective, giving ourselves the biggest challenge we could,” Staffaroni said.

Genevieve Morrison, Wayland High

“The Curie Society,” a new graphic novel created by Heather Einhorn and Adam Staffaroni, tells the story of an underground society of female scientists who use STEM skills to solve mysteries and defend the world from nefarious scientist villains. Published by MIT Press, the book garnered acclaim from critics and readers alike.

Unlike your typical comic book, “The Curie Society” isn’t exactly fantasy. Instead, creators Einhorn and Staffaroni chose to take the literal sense of the term “science fiction.” When coming up with the classic comic book action, they took the time to consult real-life scientists. As a result, the book features actual science phenomena that could realistically be feasible in the near future.

“Something we did on this book was we started talking to those science advisors first,” Staffaroni said. “We wanted to know what they were working on, what they thought was cool about what was happening in their field … We tried to work as many of those concepts into the story as possible.”

[In] most other portrayals of women, being smart is the entire character trait, they won’t push beyond that,


The comic book community can be very exclusive. While there are always new and exciting stories about fascinating heroes and terrifying villains, the creators of “The Curie Society” knew that there was something missing: Women. 

“In comics, there are not that many female heroic characters,” Einhorn said. “There are a limited number of those types of characters and especially limited —  I actually don’t think there’s any — female heroic characters who use STEM skills to do cool things.”

It’s not enough just to have female characters, however. Developing their personality and humanity is just as important to making representation. Einhorn and Staffaroni set out to create a book that would not only have female characters, but strong, smart, three-dimensional women with a compelling story.

“[In] most other portrayals of women, being smart is the entire character trait, they won’t push beyond that,” Staffaroni said. “We started out with a whole cast of smart women, so we had to figure out other ways to make them more human and give them more depth.”

When the final story was created, Einhorn and Staffaroni had to pick the publishing company to bring the story to the world. In the end, they chose MIT Press, making strides as one of the only books in its genre, and the only action-adventure young adult graphic novel MIT Press has ever published.

“We get the question all the time: ‘Did Marie Curie actually create a secret society of female scientists?’ Einhorn said. “The answer is no, but one of the reasons we get that question is everything else MIT Press is putting out is completely academic and factual and this is definitely fiction.”

After the release of “The Curie Society,” its creators are already looking toward the future of their main characters, Simone, Maya, and Taj. 

“We are working on ‘The Curie Society’ volumes two and three,” Einhorn said. “It’s very exciting, we are starting to take meetings on [a] television adaptation of this story. That’s within the history of comic books and graphic novels, it’s a medium that lends itself to derivatives.”

In the world of comic books, where DC and Marvel dominate with their classic superheroes, books such as “The Curie Society” are in a league of their own. With this book, Einhorn and Staffaroni introduce a new generation of heroes.

“Instead of being stuck telling more stories about characters that were created in the 1930s and ‘40s, we’re doing it for new characters,” Staffaroni said.

(Check out “The Curie Society” through MIT Press now)

–Aug. 4, 2021–