Synapses are the connections between nerve cells and the number and density of them is linked to how networks form in brain. Microglia are cells that patrol the brain to remove debris and foreign objects such as pathogens. They also modify neuronal networks by nibbling away synaptic contacts, hence the term ‘synaptic pruning’.
This isn’t a particularly original cartoon as an idea; synaptic pruning immediately lends itself to the idea of a neuron getting a haircut. Despite this, it’s one of my favourite cartoons because of how the expressions turned out. I managed to capture the glazed look of the neuron in the earliest draft. Mike Rhoglia (yes I’m quite pleased with the name too) took longer to pin down, I wasn’t sure quite how I pictured him. After many sketches the outline of a face that projected a calm assurance, an understated confidence and pride in his appearance slowly emerged. Someone who knew he knew what was best for his customers but would quietly let them think they had ended up with the trim they always wanted. I think this was the first inkling of a theme that has slowly got stronger, that of glia being the unrecognised true masters of the brain.
Yes one of the hipster neurons on the posters is supposed to look like Ron Swanson. Yes it’s true that I’ve not paid to have my own hair cut for 25 years.