I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m an optimist, I love advances in science and technology, and I’m generally excited about the future. Which is why I love the graphic novel Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? by Brian Fies. It looks at how optimism and attitudes towards technology changed over the 20th century, seen through the eyes of a boy and his father. The characters age slowly in “comics time” as the century goes on, beginning with the boundless enthusiasm and optimism of the 1939 New York World’s Fair and moving decade by decade to the jaded apathy of the 1970s. In each decade, the boy reads an issue of a comic, included in the graphic novel as if it were an inserted artifact, that brilliantly mirrors the comics of that era (down to the advertisements!).
Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? gets more somber as the century moves on, but it ends on a terrific high note of optimism for both the future and the present. It makes you appreciate what we have and where we can be going. It’s a lovely piece of work.