cover image Einstein


Jim Ottaviani and Jerel Dye. First Second, $32.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62672-876-9

Science comics veteran Ottaviani (Hawking) partners with Dye (Pigs Might Fly) on an inventive graphic biography of Albert Einstein (1879–1955) that effectively employs the comics medium to demonstrate the scientist’s hallmark nonlinear perspectives of space and time. The narrative follows the beats of Einstein’s life: his silent youth, his aptitude for mathematics and science, the Annus Mirabilis that introduced E=mc2 to the masses, his relationships with his wives (first wife fractious, second wife steady), colleagues (competitively genial), and admirers (bemusing), and his final years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Emulating theories of relativity, the scenes expand or contract, with time represented across shorter or longer panel lengths, or characters who converse across points of time across panels. Other clever visual devices include having a young Einstein dream up theories imagining his older Einstein self walking on a beam of light. The creators do an admirable job accentuating Einstein’s intellectual feats while giving equal time to his human foibles, faithfully depicting someone who is a “lover of humanity, but detached from his environment and the people in it.” This tension forms the heart of the book. It’s an artful play on the “distinction between past, present, and future” and how these elements are only a “stubbornly persistent illusion.” (Nov.)