Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? by Brian Fies

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? That’s a great question and an extraordinary graphic novel. Brian Fies recreates most of the Twentieth Century with many creative minds and inspirations that explored the future.

We meet our two main characters in 1939 on their way to the New York City World’s Fair. They are a father and son filled with high expectations for what the future holds. The fair was dedicated to communication, transportation, production and food. The author takes real photos of the fair and places his comic characters into the pictures. Father and son are awestruck by the possibilities of the future and filled with excitement.

Of course, 1939 was the beginning of World War II and the future is put on hold while the home front and the military, including the bomb, take over the narrative. As with any comic series, time marches on but our main characters do not seem to age at all. We move up to the 1950s and see how the Cold War effects the family. Father is building a cement block fallout shelter in the basement and the world of tomorrow seems to have brought supersonic planes, super-smart computers (but they are huge), atomic power, and plans for travel in outer space. Included are actual pictures that were run in Collier’s magazine at the time by an artist that envisioned what the world of tomorrow would look like.

As we move through the decades Fies also includes small comic books (with the newsprint paper and typical super heroes fighting from space to earth and back again) that remind the reader what a typical boy might be reading that was part of the “world of tomorrow.” We continue through spaceflight (when the boy finally goes off to college – I told you it was comic book time) into the future one last time. Then we see a new family: the man with his own daughter, and his father by his side, living on the moon in their world of tomorrow.

I highly recommend this book for kids in sixth grade and up, plus adults! I think of it as history, science, science fiction, and a unique graphic design. The author even pays homage to veteran comics creators in the Space Age Adventures that are the four comic books throughout the story. If you are looking for a book that both fathers and son would enjoy, look no further than Whatever Happened to the Worl d of Tomorrow.
~Joyce Laiosa

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