Thursday, May 25, 2017

Science Comics: Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared

This latest volume in the Science Comics series focuses on the invention of flying machines. Now, I know the Wright Brothers are extremely well known; they are featured on the backs of two states' quarters even. Reading this book, I learned that there was LOTS I did not know about the duo, including the fact that they had a sister named Katharine. She played a huge role in spreading the news about her brothers' work and also advertising and marketing their work to potential investors, and in this book she is the narrator who puts a very personal and human touch on the proceedings.
Not only is she a good choice because she has a magnetic personality, she was also a schoolteacher so she is a handy figure for explaining the science aspects of the story. There are a good number of passages where the science of flight is spelled out via exposition. And to be honest, I felt that some of these passages were a bit dense to read, but I appreciated the creators trying to break down some pretty difficult science.
Still, there is much to recommend this book. I felt that the artwork was vibrant and expressive, and it revels in depicting the various flying machines of the day. The story humanizes the achievements of some grand historical figures and also puts their work into historical context. Additionally, the book and endnotes cover a number of the notable pioneers/inventors/scientists of the day. Flying Machines might have hit a couple of spots of turbulence, but it is still a very good book.

This book is a collaboration between writer Alison Wilgus and artist Molly Brooks. Wilgus is a cartoonist and animator who worked on the Codename: Kids Next Door cartoon and Avatar: The Last Airbender comic books. Brooks is also known for her series Sanity & Tallulah. Both creators write about their work on Flying Machines in this blog post.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been positive. Johanna Draper Carlson wrote that it, like the others in the series, "combines the best of everything: fascinating stories, entertaining education, and talented creators who know how to make good comics." Kirkus Reviews called it "An accessible and engaging introduction to the Wright brothers and how they ushered in the age of flight."

Science Comics: Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more information about it here.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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