For those of us who don’t casually delve into the history of science, there may be more detail than we care to get into in Hawking, the graphic biography of the life of one of the most important scientists of our time. But even with all of the scientific jargon, cartoonists Ottaviani and Myrick successfully center Hawking’s personal journey in the face of an all-encompassing debilitating disease.
At first he brushes it off. Then he is caught off guard, confused by what is happening. We learn of his terminal illness through others — through his father who studies late into the night trying to find a cure, his acquaintances who take pity, and his friends and lover who fear for their own lives when Stephen is behind the wheel. We witness his darkness, too, and then: the light. There is work to be done and there isn’t enough time.
Rendered cinematically, Hawking is a gripping story that at once tethers between the vastness of our universe and the human experience of inhabiting an earthly body. Through his early schooling at St Albans School and at Oxford, his ALS diagnosis and belief he had only years to live, and then going on to live until 2018 — Stephen Hawking lived a remarkable life. So go ahead, gloss over the extended dialogue on particle theory. You won’t at all miss what this book is really about.
Hawking by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick, published by First Second Books (2019)
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