Graphic Novels, September 14, 2018 | Xpress Reviews

Sequential art fights quantum mechanics in a battle for comprehension…to a draw; an enjoyable read for fans of nuanced character studies and coming-of-age stories set in the real world

Week ending September 14, 2018

Bub, Tanya (illus.) & Jeffrey Bub (text). Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics (A Serious Comic of Entanglement). Princeton Univ. Jun. 2018. 272p. notes. ISBN 9780691176956. pap. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781400890392. SCI
In an attempt to provide an accessible, no-math-but-some-logic-required primer on quantum theory, daughter-father team the Bubs combine in this work an irreverent sensibility, witty and concise text, and dynamic black-and-white artwork that conveys multidimensionality and texture. Sadly, the highly meta results (the authors, narrator, and reader are all credited as characters) are ultimately tedious, as the creators try in earnest but fail to wrestle the admittedly complex subject matter into coherent form. Even more frustrating is that while their goal is pursued methodically, neither practical applications of quantum theory nor its implications for humanity’s concept of material reality are satisfactorily explored.
VERDICT Sequential art fights quantum mechanics in a battle for comprehension…to a draw. Physics buffs, fans of nonfiction/nonsuperhero comics, and the incurably curious might enjoy this optional purchase; all others are directed to textbooks, documentaries, YouTube, or Wikipedia. [Previewed in Jody Osicki’s “Graphically Speaking,” LJ 6/15/18.]—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

Winterhart, Joff. Other People: Days of the Bagnold Summer & Driving Short Distances. Gallery 13: S. & S. Sept. 2018. 208p. ISBN 9781501191749. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781501191756. GRAPHIC NOVELS
UK graphic novelist Winterhart makes his U.S. debut, presenting two books in one. Bagnold Summer, short-listed for a 2012 Costa Award, introduces mother and library assistant Sue Bagnold and her teenage son, Daniel, who struggle to connect with each other over the course of six long weeks of summer vacation. Driving revolves around Sam and his stuffed-shirt employer Keith, who trains Sam on the basics of his job, which seems to consist mainly of driving from place to place and waiting in reception areas. Masterfully told in short, comic strip–like vignettes that are funny, sad, completely mundane, and utterly relatable, both works focus on young men with absentee fathers trying to find their place in the world and their relationships with older caregivers and would-be mentors. The understated nature of Summer’s black-and-white artwork perfectly fits the tone and feel of the narrative, with just enough detail to convey every subtle emotion and humdrum happening.
VERDICT An enjoyable read for fans of nuanced character studies and coming-of-age stories set in the real world.—Zach Berkley, Moline P.L., IL

LJ Reviews

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