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Whatever Happened To The World Of Tomorrow?
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Whatever Happened To The World Of Tomorrow?

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  255 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, the long-awaited follow-up to Mom's Cancer, is a unique graphic novel that tells the story of a young boy and his relationship with his father. Spanning the period from the 1939 New York World's Fair to the last Apollo space mission in 1975, it is told through the eyes of a boy as he grows up in an era that was optimistic and am
Published (first published April 1st 2009)
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Bob Redmond
Fies writes a story of a boy and his father from the dawn to dusk of the space age (from 1939's World's Fair in New York to the end of the Apollo moon missions in 1975). Nevermind that the boy ages about 12 or 14 years in this time; it's comix time, as Fies explains in an intro.

The text exits in three narrative planes: an essay about the nature of collective imagination, the dialogue between the boy and his dad, and a few complete comic books in context, but also stand-alone adventure stories fe
Nancy Brady
Sep 13, 2016 Nancy Brady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Benjamin Reid of the Huron Public Library
Shelves: library-book
3.5 stars for this graphic novel that shows all the many changes in our world through the 1930s to today and beyond through the eyes of a father and son and their changing roles as the son grows up (even to the point where the son is now a father himself). There is lots to absorb, lots to see, lots to appreciate, and a great deal to remember about our changing scientific adventures.

Notable scenes include the gold stars in windows during World War II, bomb shelters, photos of the moon landing. T
Jul 19, 2010 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book detailing the relationship between a father and son as it parallels the relationship between America and its search for a technological future.
Jul 05, 2013 Arthur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually review graphic novels or include them in my reading lists, but this one is so relevant to my interests that I felt it justified the deviation. Brian Fies takes us through a fictionalized history of the progression of futurist attitudes, starting at the World's Fair in 1935, all seen through the eyes of a father and son. The deliberate conceit of stretching out the aging of the characters through decades (acknowledged in the foreword, appropriately, as a standard comic book staple ...more
Audrey Maran
As a brief history of technological advances and the U.S. Space program, this was fantastic. I was able to get a feeling for what people living through the times of predicting idyllic worlds of tomorrow felt. I could share in the excitement of the robot maids, cities 1000's of stories high, and space colonies on mars that we have all but stopped dreaming about today. We still speculate about future technologies, but maybe not quite as spectacularly or as optimistically as in the past (or it does ...more
Rae Ganci Hammers
Brian Fies' "Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?" had a lot of promise - in both its premise and its visual aesthetic - but I think it came up short on both counts. In the introduction, Fies discusses how often graphic fiction operates according to its own internal time-logic, but the way he played with time didn't work for me. I had a hard time allowing the same character to be a 10 year old boy during the 1939 Worlds Fair and just heading off to college in 1975. Fies is clearly nostalg ...more
Jake Forbes
I can relate to much of Fies accounting of the death of futurism in popular consciousness. Growing up, I was gung-ho for Sally Ride and Hubble, heartbroken at Challenger and disappointed to find out that only robots would make it to Mars for the foreseeable future. So while Fies chronology basically ends before I was born, the hope for a World of Tomorrow certainly outlived the Apollo program. But now, on with three shuttle launches left to go before the USA has no plans manned space program, I ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WHTTWOT hits something that a few people are extremely curious about. Where are the jetpacks, flying cars, robots, and spaceships our future was going to have?! The story is told through the eyes of a young boy, who along with his father, travels through the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's, watching the world around him (in particularly flight and space travel) as it changes and evolves. The purpose of this story is to note all of the major events, pioneers, and decisions that all impacted the ...more
Dec 01, 2009 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seems like I don't get much reading done lately. A friend recommended this one to me, and I enjoyed it very much. Like most graphic novels there's a lot going on outside the text, much of which I'm sure I miss. I loved the interplay between the sub-plot in the comic books interspersed with the primary storyline (the artist makes a clear effort to pay homage to the golden and silver ages of comics with the series) and how it also reflected the changes in the primary plot--more or less a history o ...more
Jul 28, 2013 Crabbygirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
when i read last year that NASA was retiring the space shuttle and that they had no plans for a replacement, i wondered how the space program had fallen on such hard times. armstrong on the moon was a pivotal moment in american history. NASA used to be a flagship for Amercian dominance of the world, and now it seems to be petering away. well, this book did a great job of explaining the build up to the Apollo missions, and the fallout of finding no life on the moon, no life on Mars. this book mad ...more
Aug 28, 2009 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I enjoyed the story and artwork of this graphic novel, I found myself strangely unable to connect with it at the same time. Brian Fies mentions in the foreword that he is just old enough to clearly remember the first moon landing. I was born about 6 months after it. I think I vaguely remember Apollo-Soyuz in 1975. I have an interest in the history of space flight and American culture of the late 20th century (both explored in the book). However, to me personally, the Apollo era has always ...more
Stewart Tame
Jan 24, 2015 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely done story that follows the promise of the 1939 World's Fair through to the end of the Apollo program, with some glimpses of what may come. The story is framed via the device of a young boy visiting the Fair with his father, and told via snapshots at various times throughout the decades. There are also pastiches of the comic books of the various eras. This book is about the romance and wonder of science and technology, as well as the differences between speculation about the future and th ...more
Mar 27, 2010 Ramona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tracing the evolution of America's cultural concept of the "future" from the World's Fair in 1939 to the last Apollo mission in 1975, this graphic novel examines urban/suburban planning and the military/industrial complex of the mid-20th century. Using a boy who gradually ages from about 6 to 18 during those 40 years and his father, the author looks at the boundless optimism of the World's Fair (despite the rapid approach of World War II) and how fear and disappointment gradually soured our outl ...more
Perhaps the best book to capture the essence and optimism of science, industry, and innovation during the mid-century in America. Written as a graphic novel about a boy and the relationship with his father Brian Fies captures cultural, political, and historical norms and events that contribute to a age that optimistically thought the future was an endless opportunity. Starting with the 1939 World's Fair, Fies introduces his reader to marvels of the times from radios and TVs through nanotechnolog ...more
David Schaafsma
Dec 22, 2012 David Schaafsma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gn-ya
A reasonable question: what happened to the World of Tomorrow? Including all of our (enlightenment-based, modernist) optimism, hope for the future? A father-son story in three basic phases, the High Tech modernist phase, through the Moon Landing, maybe, Fies seems to say, then the disillusionment of the sixties (maybe the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Great Depression, etc, also had parts to play, eh?... ) Then becoming a father and reigniting that hope for the future... But it all still feels a lit ...more
Jan 04, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Amazing book. The artwork is clean, very simple, and serves as an excellent framework for the story it tells. The story is told across several decades, from an insecure America in the 1950s to a moodier one in the 1970s, and the evolution of "The American Dream" and the concept of a World of Tomorrow. It deals with the giddy, breathless optimism for the future, as well as the kind of cynicism that comes from things not going exactly to plan. It tells a great story about hope for the future, and ...more
Jun 10, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? looks, in comic book form, at differing views of ideal mid-20th century "tomorrows", starting with the 1939 World's Fair, and ending with the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz project. Care is taken to present "negatives" as well as "positives" from the differing eras.

Especially interesting are some rarely-seen (by me) photos. I was especially taken by the ones from the Gemini 4 mission.

The closing chapter, which features a 3-generational family set at a moon base, se
George Marshall
It promised so much: a fascinating theme about our attitudes to technology and progress, based around a moving story about the relationship between father and son. But it delivers nothing of substance and is brought down by Fies' incredibly irritating drawing style that is both cutesy and devoid of detail or subtlety- it looks and feels like a blown up coloring book. The idea of combining a world fair, a father-son relationship and superheroes was prefigured in Jimmy Corrigan and intercutting a ...more
Jan 20, 2015 Antonio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story is about a father and son, and how they're lives reflects the dreams and ambitions, triumphs and failures, fears and anxiety, setbacks and innovations of the 20th century with more vibrancy and accuracy than a mere narration of historical data. The book blurs the lines between tales and facts, it shows that our past isn't a liability in forging a better future that we all want to achieve.

Sometimes the future is far more better than what we imagined, and even though we might fail our o
Apr 02, 2014 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was wonderful! A very well-constructed history of the 20th-century American imagination for a brighter future. The story traces a father and son from the 1939 New York World's Fair, through the forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies, but with only slight aging of the characters--a subtle nod to time in comics. Attitudes toward the future are also reflected with included issues of a made-up comic, "Space Age," scattered throughout the book and the history it covered. Just really fun for th ...more
Oct 07, 2012 Zedder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In terms of conception and visual execution, this book is wonderful. The underlying idea is that it is an exploration of the optimistic futurism that pervaded so much of US culture from the 30s to the 50s, from the World's Fairs to tract housing. And the style of the drawings varies considerably, in an attempt to capture the look of photos and documents from different moments in that period. But I found the story itself slightly lacking -- the whole felt like less than the sum of its parts. It's ...more
Adam Trabold
Mar 17, 2015 Adam Trabold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great coming-of-age story intertwined with the history surrounding the relationship of a boy with his father. The story was great, the art was just good IMO. I personally wish it had been a bit less Archie-style and more true to comic form back in the eras it was referring to.

It didn't feel "wrong" persay (the art style is a real comic style), I just think a less "cartoony" direction may have read a bit better and would have engaged me more. Style isn't always right-and-wrong, though...I can un
Jul 17, 2009 J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The art is fantastic. I really like Fies' sense of how color affects mood. I *LOVED* the use of actual old newsprint paper for the comics included within the work, and how they were tied into the character's POV. However, the book went from somewhat naive (on purpose, but still gratingly so) to downright preachy at the end. In the end, all I can say is that I wanted to like it a great deal more than I ended up doing.
Jonathan H.
Apr 29, 2011 Jonathan H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, scifi
I bought this a while back and then for no good reason it sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally read it. It's a fantastic look at how the "world of tomorrow" has shifted over the last few decades, told from the point of view of a father and son. What's interesting is that the father and son age more slowly, allowing them to experience decades of change in what seems to be a matter of years. Just brilliant.
Aug 17, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An alternative title might be "Whatever Happened To Optimism?" Specifically, optimism regarding our technological future, a future where big science and the-powers-that-be work together to create a cleaner, leaner techno-utopia "for all mankind". The optimism that was embodied in GM's Futurama at the 1939 World's Fair. Fies gives us a plainspoken, clear-eyed hymn to that optimism and creates a case that it may not have all been in vain after all.
Andrew Tatge
This overview of the optimism, then cynicism of the US's role in in the world and it's relation to science is fairly plain, and Maybe more engaging for a younger audience. A coming of age story recounting major Scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century. It's most effective when reminding the reader of how incredible now commonplace things were. Much of the exposition is past tense voice over and not really plot driven.
the gift
if the art had been of its time I would have given it a five- the sentiment, the structure of the story, recalls the idealism of my youth, though I was not old enough to really watch the Apollo landings, I did grow up in a science oriented world. partly this is in my father being a scientist, partly in the hope it showed in the future. which is where I live…I liked the comics interludes but as a kid who never read comics, the nostalgic impact is dilute.
Bob Collins
Aug 18, 2013 Bob Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, thought provoking look at how we thought the world of tomorrow would unfold, from the 1939 World's Fair, through the post-WWII era, through the "space age" to now in a Graphic Novel format. From the Author's Note: "There was a time when building the future was inspirational. Ambitious. Romantic. Even ennobling. I think it can be again."

I do to.

The future didn't turn out they way we thought it would (it rarely does - "hey! Where's my jet pack.") But usually turns out well.
Brandon James
Show, don't tell. I never thought that could truly be applied to a comic book or graphic novel, but here we have it. Without trying to spoil anything, most pages of this book are narrative, with hardly any emotion or artwork to carry the narrative. The best pieces, for me, are the comics within the comic where the author can get a bit carried away. All in all I found this to be too stuffy.
Victor III Lo Henares
While I don't think that I completely understand and relate to the story that harkens back to years before I was born, I appreciate the lengths the author did to make it look and feel like the time period it's supposed to be. What it did for me though was it gave me a sense of optimism and hope for a better future.
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Brian Fies is a science writer, illustrator, and cartoonist whose widely acclaimed first graphic novel, Mom's Cancer, won the 2005 Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic (the first web comic to win the award and inaugurate this new category), the Lulu Blooker Prize for Best Comic, the Harvey Award for Best New Talent, and the German Youth Literature Prize, among other awards and recognition. He lives ...more
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