Feynman

Jim Ottaviani; illustrated by Leland Myrick

First Second

1596438274

9781596438279

Trade Paperback

272 Pages

$19.99

CAD22.99

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In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by Leland Myrick, Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death.

Anyone who ever wanted to know more about Richard P. Feynman, quantum electrodynamics, the fine art of the bongo drums, the outrageously obscure nation of Tuva, or the development and popularization of the field of physics in the United States need look no further than this rich and joyful work.

REVIEWS

Praise for Feynman

"In every picture, bubbles of text record Feynman's comments, mostly taken from stories he and others have told and published in earlier books . . . These images capture with remarkable sensitivity the essence of Feynman's character . . . Some western readers commonly use the Japanese word manga to mean serious comic-book literature. According to one of my Japanese friends, this usage is wrong . . .  The correct word for serious comic-book literature is gekiga, meaning 'dramatic picture.' The Feynman picture-book is a fine example of gekiga for Western readers."—Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books

“Outstanding . . . [The authors have] so effortlessly, elegantly and engagingly rendered the life story of one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century that you’ll fervently wish for more time with both book and its subject long before you’ve reached Feynman’s closing pages . . . Ottaviani’s pitch-perfect script grants each character not only an individual and recognizable voice, but also real personality and sense of depth. His pacing is panther smooth, quickening and slowing without hitch as required. And the transitions between the various epochs and stations of the late genius’s life help propel the narrative forward, rather than act as an informational speed bump. While past efforts in this particular genre have garnered Ottaviani much praise and some attention for its excellence in conception and execution, Feynman exceeds even his past benchmarks. Leland Myrick is the perfect foil for his partner’s script, and his depictions instill a vital life into the eccentric genius and his many adventures. Myrick’s fluid line dances across the page, skittering and looping almost crazily to outline and delineate his figures, before it transforms into something far more unyielding and rigid, outlining objects and other aspects of the environment. This contrast not only enhances his ability to seemingly capture characters in motion upon the page, but further lends a sense of the organic to his characters . . . Myrick has an uncanny ability to capture the dance of emotions on his characters’ faces. Even better, his storytelling is impeccable, and his choice of moments to illustrate is just about perfect, if not already there . . . Feynman is penetrating and insightful biography done as comics. It’s also a joy to look through and one of the most just-plain-fun-to-read books published this year, in any category. And yet, it works as a serious piece of nonfiction, one that will reward deep and repeated readings. This book deserves a place in every library, comics-centric or otherwise. It demands to be studied not only for the many lessons it offers concerning the crafting of fine comics, but also, even more, for those hard-won lessons it offers on how to lead a life as extraordinary and as sublime as that of Richard Feynman.”—Bill Baker, Washington Independent Review of Books

“In classic comic book form, [Ottaviani and Myrick] chronicle the mind-blowing adventures of the Nobel-Prize winning physicist, adventurer and scientific icon . . . In the pantheon of famous physicists, Feynman reigns as the trickster god, perhaps as well known for being a bongo-playing, strip-bar habitué, as for his blue-ribbon denunciation of NASA in the space shuttle Challenger tragedy. He worked on the Manhattan Project, attracting suspicions by cracking safes in security-conscious Los Alamos offices, and shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965 for his work on quantum electrodynamics, the theory explaining electromagnetic force that Feynman famously called, ‘the jewel of physics.’ Feynman, the graphic novel, goes through all of this but captures the jazzy flow of Feynman's life in its spare lines.”—Dan Vergano, USA Today

"In Feynman, read about how the irrepressible and colorfully sketched PhD pulls pranks on his fellow researchers on the Manhattan Project. Watch as the rascally professor solves the Dirac Equation. Observe as the hard-partying genius boldly calls Niels Bohr by his given name, instead of by his code handle 'Nicholas Baker.' In one panel of the 300-page book, Feynman spins dinner plates to unlock secrets of quantum mechanics; in another he humiliates a NASA official during the Rogers Commission investigation of the Challenger explosion. 'His work on the atomic bomb, his efforts in supercomputing, his participation on the Rogers Commission—he got his fingerprints all over the 20th century,' says Feynman author Jim Ottaviani (the illustrator is Leland Myrick)."—Monica Hesse, The Washington Post

“Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick’s Feynman is an affectionate and inspiring comic biography of the legendary iconoclastic physicist Richard Feynman . . . I expected great things from Feynman. I wasn't disappointed . . . I’ll be shoving Feynman at everyone I can get to read it.”—Boing Boing

“A tour de force . . . This is the best kind of story for presentation in graphic novel form as the words and pictures work in concert to produce as a whole something more than either can do separately.”—Shelf Awareness Pro (starred review)

“The first-person graphic novel format is ideal for telling Feynman’s story. We witness young Feynman struggling with mathematical concepts until he begins to see them in 3D . . . Ottaviani and Myrick do a spectacular job presenting their remarkable subject—achieving a kind of Vulcan mind-meld with Feynman, we come to know him so well—even unto clear explanations of complex physics. Their enthusiasm infuses every aspect of the book, from the riveting opening scene . . . to the aptly spirited and opinionated bibliography.”—Horn Book (Starred Review)

"This is a fascinating look at the life of an eccentric genius, a man who worked on the Manhattan Project, won a Nobel Prize, was the first great physicist to teach freshmen classes, and was the investigator into the cause of the Challenger explosion . . . The artwork is an excellent complement, sharp and clear, to the story of his life and the scientific discoveries he helped to popularize . . . Challenging and thought-provoking, Ottaviani’s third physics-related graphic novel is an impressive and solid contribution to the works about the amazing Mr. Feynman."—Bonnie Kunzel, VOYA

"High-school science students may be familiar with, and can easily follow here, the outline of [Feynman's] accomplishments, particularly his work on the Manhattan Project, the Nobel Prize he shared for his explorations in quantum electrodynamics, his breakthrough testimony on the panel investigating the Challenger disaster, even his turns as dilettante safecracker, Brazilian drummer, and all 'around ladies' man."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Ottaviani’s third graphic novel about physics is the most personable yet."—Ray Olson, Booklist

"Jumping from the Manhattan Project laboratories of Los Alamos, New Mexico, to the beaches of Rio, Ottaviani and Myrick's portrait of the Nobel Prize winning physicist and general polymath Richard Feynman eschews chronology in favor of rhythm, and it's an approach that suits their subject perfectly. While Feynman's role in the creation of the atomic bomb and his contributions to 20th-century quantum electrodynamics are fascinating topics, they share equal time with his vaguely libertine (for a physicist, anyway) approach to romance and his tireless—and uneven—attempts to understand such nonscientific pursuits as art, language, safecracking, samba music, and cooking. Though he was indisputably one of the leading figures in the post-Einstein scientific landscape, Feynman's most enduring pursuit was making physics accessible to the layman, and several sections of the book illustrate how this impulse went beyond mere populism and came to dominate his scientific life. When he wasn't relaxing on the beach, he frequently chose teaching freshmen or lecturing to the general public over pure research. Myrick's light, sketchy inks keep the proceedings from bogging down, even in the lecture hall, and an extensive bibliography and sketchbook prove that the most dogged intellectual pursuit can still be a good time."—Publishers Weekly 

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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JIM OTTAVIANI (Feynman, Primates) is the world’s preeminent writer of comics and graphic novels about science. Notable works include a biography of Niels Bohr and the fast-paced tale of the desperate lives of early paleontologists and T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, from Aladdin books. He has worked as a nuclear engineer and is currently employed as a reference librarian in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  

LELAND MYRICK (Feynman, Missouri Boy) is the Ignatz Award- and Harvey Award-nominated author and illustrator of The Sweet Collection and Bright Elegy.  His writing and illustrations

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  • Feynman

    Richard Feynman: Nobel Winner; Best-Selling Author; Quantum Physicist; Safe-cracker.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Jim Ottaviani; illustrated by Leland Myrick

  • Jim Ottaviani is the world’s preeminent writer of comics and graphic novels about science. Notable works include a biography of Niels Bohr and the fast-paced tale of the desperate lives of early paleontologists. His latest book is T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, from Aladdin books. He has worked as a nuclear engineer and is currently employed as a reference librarian in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    Leland Myrick is the author and illustrator of First Second’s Missouri Boy. He lives in Pasadena, California.
  • Jim Ottaviani Portrait by Leland Myrick
    Jim Ottaviani
  • Leland Myrick
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