Sunday, December 25, 2011

Around the World by Matt Phelan

In 1873, Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days, and exciting adventure of a man racing against time.  The book inspired real life adventures to circumnavigate the world.  In this graphic novel, the stories of three individuals at the end of the nineteenth century are told, who all went around the world in very different ways.

The first story is of Thomas Stevens who from 1884 to 1886 rode around the world on a bicycle (naturally taking a boat at the water bits).  And not the bicycle you're probably picturing.  One of the ones with the gigantic front wheel and a tiny back wheel.

The second story is Nellie Bly's, a female reporter for the New York World who set out in 1889 to beat the Jules Verne hero and go around the world in 74 days.

The final story is about Joshua Slocum, a mariner.  In 1895 he set out in a small boat to sail around the world, not returning until 1898.

This was a lovely graphic novel.  The illustrative style is similar throughout the book, but the color scheme is different for each story.  Stevens' story is in blues and grays, Bly's story is more colorful and vibrant with yellows and blues, and Slocum's is the most subdued in dark blue, gray and brown.

I know the story of Nellie Bly, but I'd never heard of Thomas Stevens or Joshua Slocum before, and it was fascinating reading about them.  Slocum's story and the least words, and was very sad.  It was about his trip around the world in his little boat, but it was really about his sadness and loneliness about the loss of his beloved first wife.  Although he's remarried, he clearly still loves her a misses her.

Nellie Bly came off as a total jerk in her story.  It might be based on fact.  She probably had to be very assertive and not let other people push her around.  She was doing things that were unheard of for women.  She's glaring or squinting angrily in most of her illustrations.  And saying rude things.  If it's based on fact, then fine, otherwise, why make her look so unpleasant?

Definitely a very pretty as well as informational graphic novel.  Recommended!

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