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First in Space = The Right Stuff
or
Space Monkey, Space Monkey - What you doing out there?

Review by Scott Tingley, May 28, 2007.

It has been many, many years since I watched The Right Stuff, but the thing I remember most was not the space and rocket scenes. What I remember most were the scenes where the potential astronauts trained for their mission. Blowing into tubes, the centrifuge, and the one scene that my parents wouldn't explain to me (was there something with the guys running with i.v. poles and something inserted up their backsides?). It didn't dawn on me right away, but after a few pages, First in Space is sort of a Right Stuff prequel. Without the events chronicled in this Graphic Novel things would likely have been different for Buzz and the others.

In the early 60s, the space race was moving towards its climax. Prior to manned spaceflight, both Americans and Soviets were launching animals up in rockets in order to test the biological viability of manned spaceflight... often with tragic results.

Extensively researched, First in Space is based on the true story of Ham, a chimpanzee that NASA trained for the first sub-orbital spaceflight. This rousing adventure provides a snapshot in time of mankind's early steps at conquering the final frontier.
(from onipress.com)

This is the first comic work by creator James Vining. His writing is interesting and knowledgeable and his clean, simple artwork really fits the story. I really appreciated how he added subtle physical differences to each chimp to help the reader tell them apart. Each one has his/her own personality. Vining gives Ham, our chimp hero, the demeanor of a very young child which helps make the reader sympathize and, in a way, root for him. You want him to do well, and you really want the mission to be successful.

This is a versatile history book. It details the importance the use of animals played in the Space Race of the 60's. It shows a form of animal testing that many wouldn't think of (there is a PSA for Save the Chimps at the end of the book. StC rescues descendants of the animals used for these tests).

The publisher, Oni Press, is a dedicated publisher of comics for younger readers (Polly and the Pirates, Banana Sunday, Allison Dare, and others) and they deserve recognition for that. First in Space is informative and entertaining. A great first effort by James Vining.

Oni Press has labeled the book as being appropriate for ages 7+. There are a few references and one violent monkey dream sequence that makes me want to push that age appropriateness up to 10+. In fact, I would give a 10+ rating to all three of the Oni books I have read that had the 7+ rating. Seems to be a trend for me.

You can read a 10 page preview HERE.

On Sale Now.

Pages: 96
Format: 6x9" - Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-932664-64-5
Diamond Code: FEB07 3672
2006 Xeric Winner!

By the way - anyone know the reference for "Space Monkey, Space Monkey - What you doing out there?" There's a "No Prize" in it for you.

 


 


 

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Administrator / Creator of this website: Scott Tingley comicsintheclassroom@gmail.com
 

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