Current Reviews


Astronaut Dad #1

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2007
By: Chris Murman

Writer: David Hopkins
Artist: Brent Schoonover

Publisher: Silent Devil Productions

Don’t let the disguise fool you. While the creators of this two issue story may be some of the nicest people I’ve talked to in a while (they just happened to be at a con), they are trying to pull a fast one over on us readers. Tightly wrapped in the format of a pretty astronaut graphic novel, a very emotional story lies beneath. A son has to deal with his father who is never there, as well as the coolness of him being an astronaut.

What horrible people these creators are! You should punish them by searching for their book as soon as you can.

I could not have been more surprised by how fascinating this story was. Real feelings are apparent in the words of Hopkins as he tells the tale of three fathers who were “reserve” astronauts. They weren’t a part of the original seven who took part in the Mercury program, or the nine who landed on the moon. Yet every day, they went off to “training” or so that’s what they told their families. Along the way, we learn about each of the cosmonauts’ wives and the kids that completed the family portrait.

At Wizard World Texas, I got the opportunity to speak with each of the creators and the labor of love they peddled at the con. Hopkins went back to stories printed in Time about the families of our early space program, and the challenges and triumphs that were present. The book is dedicated to the two creators’ fathers, but this story certainly feels like they experienced having dads out to lunch as kids. As the story continues, we learn there is more to what is going on with a program named Odysseus, which should add historical intrigue as well as an added wrinkle to the second part of the story.

Of course, the development of Jimmy Morton (the son) is what makes this story tick. We are shown this world through his eyes and narration, which gives a unique perspective to the life of an astronaut. Some scenes outside of Jimmy’s point of view are added to complete the picture, but to me this story clicked through his eyes. Something must have gone off in Hopkins’ head about the children of astronauts during his research that set the wheels of this book into motion. If it wasn’t his own personal experience that completed the picture, then some sort of connection had to be made. It was that palpable during my reads through this book.

While the style of the artwork wasn’t completely to my taste, Schoonover is a perfect fit for the book with his cartoon-driven style that helped make the perspective a complete picture from Jimmy’s eyes. The scenes were playful for the most part, but when the drama in the boy’s mind ratcheted up, the artist was up to the task as well. For a black and white book, Brent helped differentiate between characters well with the use of shading (a task far harder to do well I’m told from many artists). He gave each of families a bit of room to breathe and brought it home with the two children Jimmy and Vanessa Kelly.

The final quirk of this book that set it apart from the stack I brought home from Dallas was the size of the book. Printed at half the size of a normal comic, it was an easy read even though the page count was high (76 pages). I enjoyed holding a comic in the palm of my hand for once. The price isn’t bad either, six bucks isn’t too much to try out this first installment. Even if the pages were normal sized, that’s still a bargain in today’s market.

For being relatively young in the comics world, these two unassuming creators have definitely set the bar pretty high for what is possible in their careers. They can definitely count on me seeking out the next chapter to find out what happens.

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