Monday, February 28, 2011

Anglo-American Graphic Novels about the Soviet Space Program

In the past couple of years, two graphic novels--one American and one British--have been published about the Soviet space race.  The first of these, Laika, by Nick Abadzis, was published by First Second in 2007 to great acclaim.  If you haven't read this one, I highly recommend it

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing calls Laika "haunting" and "sweet," and Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production (and the most well-known children's book blogger in the U.S.) concludes that Laika, "...is an ode to dogs themselves. To the animals that we befriend and love and, ultimately, destroy. It’s also about history, humanity, and the price of being extraordinary. No one can walk away from this book and not be touched."

(Don't miss the comments to the Boing Boing post.  In them you will find the lyrics to a Polish children's song about Laika and well as reference to other artistic works about the first dog in space.)

Now a new graphic novel has come out in the U.K. (December 2010) commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight.  Titled Yuri's Day: The Road to the Stars, this graphic novel aimed at a teen and adult audience is attracting some interest in Russia.  Nick Dowson reports for The Moscow Times that Yuri's Day--written by Piers Bizony, illustrated by Andrew King, and designed by Peter Hodkinson--has been well received and will soon be translated into Russian.  Indeed, the authors of Yuri's Day are responding to comments and corrections at their website for future editions of the graphic novel and for the Russian translation.  It's an interesting process, that's for sure.

Here's a review of Yuri's Day: The Road to the Stars by Graham Southorn at Sky at Night Magazine (a BBC site).

1 comment:

  1. This is fascinating -- I knew there was a potent American counterpart to the conjuncture between childhood and the space race in Russia that I have written about, including a Happy Meal space shuttle. But graphic novels challenge genre in a very provocative way, straddling the visual and textual memes of space travel in public discourse for and about children.

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