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Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? Paperback – August 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A hopelessly optimistic moon-age daydream..."
--The Village Voice

"A very special book . . . it may even make you, like it did me, realise that Fies' vision of our past and his hope for the future is something we can all share in. Quite brilliant."
--Richard Bruton, forbiddenplanet.co.uk

...A book that can be enjoyed on a number of levels... We can't imagine a better time for young people to hear this inspiring message, and this book delivers it with grace and style. --American Astronautical Society

"The clean, simple comic-strip quality of Fies's art fits the story perfectly, highlighting the gravity of the situation while cutting away undue sentimentality. Mom's Cancer is a quiet, courageous account of one family's response to a universal situation." - Publishers Weekly starred review." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Brian Fies is a writer and cartoonist whose widely acclaimed first graphic novel Mom's Cancer won the 2005 Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic (the first Web comic to win the award in this new category), the 2007 Lulu Blooker Prize for Best Comic and the 2007 German Youth Literature Prize, among other awards and recognition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Reprint edition (August 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419704419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419704413
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,224,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Deeds on June 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you haven't gotten your father a Father's Day present yet, this graphic novel could be perfect, especially if Dad is a baby-boomer. Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow is a winner, a deep, sweet meditation on America's conflicted loved affair with science and space.
Each chapter covers a decade, starting in 1939 with New York World's Fair. A boy named Buddy goes with his Pop to the Fair. We see the vast, optimistic, post-Depression worlds of the future through Buddy's eyes. Buddy and Pop do not age in real time, and the phases of human development match the phases of technological advancement as the book progresses.
While Fies tells us the smaller, personal story of Buddy's growing up, he uses Buddy's favorite comic book, Space Age Adventures, to show us what is happening in society. The escapades of Commander Cap Crater and the Cosmic Kid parallel Buddy's relationship with his father, and it is in these pages the Fies lets his subversive sense of humor roam. Crater faces giant robots, mutated prairie dogs, and a shrinking-ray in his quests to save the world, while the arch-villain spouts the purplest of comic-book prose. I don't know if Fies read comics as a kid, but that is the most reasonable explanation for his loving detail in these pages, and his firm grasp of the stylistic changes through the decades.
We see Buddy waiting through World War II for his dad's return; confronting the H-bomb paranoia of the fifties; the sporting-event competition of the sixties space race and the disillusionment of the seventies. The book could have ended there; Buddy, a young adult, still loving science, but feeling cynical and betrayed. This isn't Fies's style.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've always had a passion for the NY world's Fair and I thought Fie's book would be a worthy edition to the few books I have about the Fair.

The excellent June 17 review more or less sums up my thoughts but I was equally impressed with the visual look of the book and the way Fies used different graphic techniques to make the story come alive. For instance:
* The use of fourteen photos showing the attractions of the Fair with our hero Buddy and dad added to them but as comic art.
* The four comics, which are integral to the story, are printed on comic-style paper and a really nice touch, I thought, is the first one from 1939 uses a rather course screen to reproduce the art with last comic, from 1975, using a much finer looking screen. The 1939 comic also has poor registration and printers blemishes, no doubt typical of down-market printing back then.
* Fies cleverly uses photos, color space art (by Chesley Bonestell) a few stills from a Flash Gordon serial and some Second World War posters to provide extra interest in his panels.
* Lots of visual historical references like the GM Fururama pavilion at the Fair, a 1960s Florida diner interior or a motel that you might see at Wildwood, NJ. Buddy helps in the wartime paper drives and one frame shows his neatly tied paper contribution thrown into a truck and landing on a stack of print and just visible amongst the discarded paper you can just a bit of the first issue of Action Comics (no wonder the first issue is worth a fortune).
* The clever die-cut cover which shows Buddy and dad crossing the street in 1939 and under that, in exactly the position, both of them a shown in the future

It's difficult to fault the graphics of the book but I did find one error (probably of judgment).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was born in 1950. My views about space as a great adventure were shaped by Disney, Von Braun, and the artists who were so creative that they extended our vision into other galaxies. As a longstanding comics fan, I also appreciate and celebrate the role that comic books played in giving us shared experiences and dreams. I attended, rapt with wonder, the 1964 World's Fair. This book captures how we all felt about the future...its limitless possibilities...and it lovingly describes how the future evolved into our modern world. I gave this book to my son, saying, "This is my life." It is just fantastic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GraphicNovelReporter.com on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoy the idea behind Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, the latest original graphic novel by Brian Fies, author of Mom's Cancer. The work analyzes and unpacks 1940s and '50s futurism, which is one of my favorite aspects of kitsch and pop culture. It's that kind of "gee whiz," "Buck Rogers" sensibility that informs some of our best modern pop artifacts.

Fies obviously shares this sense of wonder. The book is packed with loving descriptions and illustrations, starting with the 1939 New York World's Fair, the book's opening setting. The work's subsequent examination of what people only a generation or so ago imagined our generation's lives to be like is a really enlightening exercise; the innocence with which they hoped for their unrealized future really instills a sense of modern wonder and nostalgia--even if a reader wasn't around to enjoy "the world of tomorrow" the first time around. This feeling shines through on every page, starting with the aforementioned World's Fair, and continuing into the portions dealing with man's first forays into space exploration and rocket science.

In terms of giving a quirky and interesting cultural history lesson, Fies's book succeeds. However, it's the framing device with which he delivers this lesson that seems to come up a bit short. The book's two main characters--only main characters, really--are Pop and Buddy, a father and son who we watch grow and mature through the 20th century, culminating in the mid-1970s. Along the way, we get interludes of Cap Crater and the Cosmic Kid, stand-ins for Pop and Buddy, whose adventures are crafted to pay homage to the various comic book heroes and styles of their respective decades.
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