It was once said by a great philosopher and guitar player that “The future is unwritten,” an idea pushing that whatever was done before can be forgotten and what is to come is a blank slate.
But this is an idea that comes with the new age of American culture. Back in 1939, the future was put on display in New York City at the World’s Fair. The spectacle presented a future of perfect metropolises, flying cars and robot maids all intended to bring about a new age of comfort and peace to the world. It wasn’t until later, with the development of the nuclear science and the cold war between the U.S.A and U.S.S.R, that the future became a vague idea.
This change of ideas is well documented and mused upon by Eisner Award winning author and cartoonist Brian Fies in his new graphic novel “Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?” a story of an unnamed boy and his “Pop” on their journey from the 1939s World’s Fair through the 1975 link up between the US and Soviet space probes.
Blast was able to talk to Brian Fies about his new book and the experience of living many of the experiences that make up the books events.
“I was born in 1960 and very much consider myself a space age baby,” said Fies. “I remember seeing Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and following the space program very closely from the 60s through the 70s.”
Fies first found success in the world of comics with his multi-award winning web-comic series “Mom’s Cancer,” a first-hand account of living with a family member with incurable cancer. Though “Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?” is his first straight-to-print work, Fies work process remained very much the same.
“Physically writing the book was the same process as writing ‘Mom’s Cancer’,” said Fies. “The fact that this new book is in full color is the biggest difference between the two.”
The story of “Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?” is interspliced with a sub story, following the son’s favorite comic book “Space Age Adventures with Commander Cap Crater and his young aide Cosmic Kid.” As the father and son see the actual world change, Cap and the Cosmic Kid go through their own metamorphosis. From carefree defenders of the city of tomorrow to Commie-bashing patriots to socially concerned sci-fi characters, the comic within the comic sees the effects of the changing attitude of the world almost as much as the father and son do.
“The Cap Crater sections of the book serve two functions within the story,” said Fies. “It is in one way a Greek chorus used to comment on the other happenings in the book and in another way is used to show pop-cultures effect on the real world and visa-versa.”
“Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?” is a rare book about the future in the way that it does not foresee a completely bleak outcome. With the success of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” the continuation of the “Terminator” series and any number of post-apocalyptic video game premises, this book offers an idea that the promised better tomorrow isn’t gone, just changed. As the book itself states in its own jacket: “Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? People believed in it for a long time. Then they gave up on it for a long time. And the, gradually, without even necessarily meaning to”¦they built it.”
“There is a slight sense of disappointment from my generation and anyone who hoped for the promise of the space age,” said Fies. “But there is also a many new ideas, both actual and hypothetical, that seem to be taking the world into a better tomorrow. I want this book to show that it’s a good thing to hope and think that tomorrow might actually be better than today.”
Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow is available in stores across the country on June 13. For more information on Brian Fies and his work visit http://brianfies.blogspot.com.