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Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? Paperback – August 1, 2012
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...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
For updates on his latest graphic novel, Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, visit http://brianfies.blogspot.com/
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Top Customer Reviews
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. He makes a quantum leap at the ending of the book, pointing out that tiny, everyday choices build the world of tomorrow, in ways the pioneers and visionaries of the fifties and sixties would never have imagined. The world of tomorrow didn't abandon or betray us. It just doesn't look exactly like we expected it to.
Fies weaves together every narrative element of a graphic novel in service to his parable. His color palette is deliberately chosen to create a sense of each decade. The depiction of Buddy and Pop is deceptively simple and you might not realize on first read just how fine an artist he is. Once you've read it, go back through and linger on the images and the composition.
Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow is thoughtful, touching, sad, hopeful, funny, deeply personal and, like all good art, universal. It could be translated into any language and still resonate with those audiences, because at its heart it's about a father and son. If you are looking for a book to share with your dad, a book to share with your kids, a book for the porch swing or even something to put next to your copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, this is the one for you.
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). The four comics are complete with covers, inside front cover ads, credible small type imprints at the bottom of the first comic page but two of them have no back covers even though you can see Buddy reading them and the back cover ads are clearly visible. The 1955 one is an ad for a six foot long rocket ship (a bargain at $4.98) and the one for 1965 is one of those Famous Artist School ads with either Albert Dorne or Norm Rockwell replaced by an older looking Buddy at the art desk.
OK, a couple of minor errors that fortunately shouldn't spoil your enjoyment of lovely graphic novel.
***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
Anyway, after three years of good intentions, I finally read Brian Fies' brilliant and surprisingly touching Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? First, the negatives: I wish I hadn't waited so long, and I wish I'd written it myself.
I read it on the "book of the future", my Kindle Fire, coincidentally wrapped in a custom (but unrelated) "World of Tomorrow" book-style case. As it turned out, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon, the day all the grayer for the recent loss of Neil Armstrong. With that as the backdrop, it was a great gift to read this book which begins at the New York World's Fair in 1939, and ends with Apollo 17 in 1975, and offers an affectionate and pitch-perfect guided tour of retro-futurism and space exploration with a healthy dose of human history along the way.
What Matt Novak's spectacular Paleofuture blog does with reverent irony and artist Bruce McCall does with satiric brilliance, Fies does with deep sincerity and a what I'd call "insightful innocence." After reading just 3 pages, I opened a web browser and started looking for a fancy leatherbound edition, as it's just that sort of book.
Perhaps most importantly, it gave me my optimism back at a time when it was sorely needed...maybe I didn't wait too long to read it, after all.
But I still wish I'd written it myself.
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