What's all this, then?

Since I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to do with this blog right now, I've decided to post some of the strange doodles and drawings I've kept in boxes, folders, and cabinets these past 30 years. A lot of these things were done while on the phone, or while testing pens, or out of sheer boredom. There won't be any rhyme or reason to these drawings. I'm just grabbing stuff from off the piles, scanning it, and adding it here. Think of it as a game of cartoon Russian roulette. The neat thing about the drawings is that each one has it's own history and background story. There will be plenty of bonus posts and topical additions as the mood strikes. Forewarned is forearmed.

All artwork copyrighted 2007/2008/2009/2010 Martin A. Devine.

Please do not link to or use images or content without permission from the so-called "artist". (So there.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Remembering Apollo 11 - July 20, 1969

I fondly remember those heady halcyon days of manned space flight. I spent hours in front of the TV watching and recording on cassette tape each and every manned flight. I was hooked on space and gobbled-up anything relating to rockets and space flight. I had inherited a deep love of science from my parents and an equally deep love for science fiction from my aunt. Being artistically inclined since I was young, I constantly drew rockets and spacemen and eventually bought comic books and magazines related to space. All those passions remain strong to this day.

With full knowledge that today would be 40th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon, I read four different spaceflight related graphic novels on my recent vacation. Here's a brief look at each.

LAIKA written and Illustrated by Rich Abadzis

Laika is a well-written and beautifully illustrated story about the first living creature launched into space, a small dog named Laika. The story blends a factual story with a fair amount of emotional fiction. We follow the dog Laika from the streets of Russia to her capture and training as a cosmonaut. To move the story along, we also follow the intersecting lives of Korolev the Chief Designer and Yelena, the Lab Tech in charge of Laika. Like Old Yeller, it's a sweet yet eventually sad story about a dog.

FIRST IN SPACE written and illustrated by James Vining

First in Space is the enjoyable story of Ham, the first American chimp in space. The story is written and solidly illustrated by James Vining, and this is his very first published work. The story, like that of Laika, is based on actual events and characters with a dash of fiction for emotion. We follow Ham through training through his eventual historic space flight and to his final sad days in the National Zoo. It's obvious the story was written and illustrated with a younger audience in mind, but it's still an enjoyable read for older folks too.

ASTRONAUT DAD written by David Hopkins and Illustrated by Brent Schoonover

Astronaut Dad is the first volume of a two volume story. Deftly written by David Hopkins with great comic artwork by Brent Schoonover, the story is a tense, emotional and sometimes dark soap opera. It follows the lives of three NASA families at the height of the space race in the 60s. Think of it as a combination of The Right Stuff and The Wonder Years. It's a thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age story (in more ways than one) and I'm looking forward to the second volume.

T-MINUS: THE RACE TO THE MOON written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Zander and Kevin Cannon

The final book I read was perhaps my favorite of the four. T-Minus is a compelling work of historical fiction about the Soviet and American space programs. Jim Ottaviani, a former nuclear engineer, writes an interesting fact-filled story about the space race from the days of science fiction (Verne, Wells, Tsiolkovsky) to the age of science fact (Goddard, Von Braun, Korolev). The story is seen through the eyes of Sergei Korolev, the Soviet Chief Designer and though C.C. and Max, two of NASA's engineers. The retro artwork by the brothers Cannon is solid and fits the time frame of the story perfectly. T-Minus is loaded with facts and details that even the most ardent space fan may not have known. An interesting device used in the design in the book was adding launch attempts in the outer margins, complete with mission details and illustrations. A very nice touch. I'd recommend this book to anyone with the slightest interest in spaceflight and 60s history.

All in all, all four books were thoroughly enjoyable reads that helped bring back some of the thrill and excitement of the golden age of space travel.