Comic Collection Review: Piled Higher & Deeper Vol. 2 by Jorge Chem


Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD) by Jorge Chem is a comic strip about life as a grad student at Stanford University.  Jorge himself went through this during his time there securing a degree in mechanical engineering.  The comic is published mainly in university newspapers and on line at

The comic centers around the lives of perpetual students who are lost in the stage of education after college and before entering the real world.  They exist in their own personal oasis of bureaucracy unknown to most of the general public.  They earn very little money while pursuing the research whims of professors and trying to work on their own research and doctorial thesis’ which are met with the daily struggle against procrastination and the need to find a way to live off the less than minimum wage they earn to do all the heavy lifting of scholarly research.

The comic is remarkably well drawn and can be a little hard to follow if you are unfamiliar with college life, but to those of us who have experienced the ineptitude of the colligate system, this comic is for you.  This is the second volume in the series (there are 5 published so far) and it is not a gag a day strip, but follows a continuity which develops the characters quite well.  We see the character age as well as try to form normal relationships all while balancing the enormous strain of constantly being on call and under pressure to deliver results or risk losing their position and everything they have worked so hard to invest in.

This is another instance of an independent artist finding some modicum of success and striking out on his own to rewrite what comics are all about.  This is not your everyday newspaper comic, it is funny, but there is much more being done here than just reacting with a gag a day.  Jorge Chem is telling a story and exposing a lifestyle which is unique to the scholastic environment.  The comic is smart, but accessible, and can be enjoyed by anyone, I highly recommend this series of books which can be found on Amazon here:

Will they ever find their way out of academia and into the real world?  Do they really want to?  These are all issues that are faced by our cast of characters as they fumble their way through the Ivy League.  Check this one out if you are looking for something different.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.


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