Science Comics: Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared
By Alison Wilcus, Molly Brooks
The latest installment of Science Comics – Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared takes the series to new heights (literarily and figuratively). This volume of the graphic novel series explores the historical nature of this remarkable subject. Told from the perspective of Katherine Wright, the youngest and the only Wright who graduated from university, she teaches the fundamental principles of early aviation attempts and successes. Like most books in the Science Comics line, this graphic novel is geared toward younger readers. As a primer on the principles of flight, it shines brightly, giving a young child the principles, ideas, glossary and further readings in the field of aerodynamics and the bare basics of turbine jet propulsion.
The story is well told at a fairly brisk pace. A lot of history had to be crammed into a limited number of pages. Wilcus however makes it work, giving the basic information and ‘links’ to the more technical aspects. It shows solid character development of the Wrights and the French and German contemporaries. The dialogue is kept alive as the movement to different scenes and is witty and charming (and often verbose) and propels the ‘science’ behind heavier than air flight. The graphic novel is limited though to the first flying machines, circa early 1900’s to 1911 or thereabouts. It takes a brief look at the first jet propelled airplane, but the focus is on the early attempts in a boom industry.
The artwork is cartoony in a good way. Characters are drawn distinctly and simply, with just enough detail to provide individuality. The art could even be described as ‘airy.’ fitting for the subject materials. Shape is well defined and when details become important, Brooks delivers – making the seemingly difficult concepts easy to understand. Panelation is appropriate and sometimes dissolves into montage or ‘ghost conversations’ (talking heads importing information laid out in diagrammatical fashion). Overall the art is above par, colored well and executed cleanly. Simple to detailed the art reflects what it has to in the story.
Together, art and story in Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared, combine to create quite the educational experience. The graphic novel guides the young reader through the early attempts and the principles that led to modern flight. Complete with a clear illustrations of content, a glossary, further reading (both on the Wright brothers and the Wright sister) this novel is sure to appeal to the budding aeronautical engineer or jet propulsion scientists – or people just interested in the early days of flight. Science Comics: Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared is a entertaining and gratifying read.