There must be a literary term for taking past works— paintings, books, poems, papers—of people and reformatting them in an intelligent way so that the end product makes sense in today’s world. One of the best examples of this that I have seen is an interview Wired magazine carried with Nikola Tesla, the late 19th-early 20th century physicist who is responsible for much of modern electrical and magnetic systems. The Wired interview was all art (and science). The writers (Marc J. Seifer and Michael Behar) posed questions, and then culled answers from Tesla’s writings.

Brad ‘61: Old images for a new story

A sampling:

So the world will be made a better place by convergence?

A sense of connectedness of the various apparently widely different forces and phenomena we observe is taking possession of our minds, a sense of deeper understanding, which, though not yet quite clear and defined, is keen enough to inspire us with the confidence of vast realizations in the near future.

This same sense of connection could pay off with world peace, you insist, even if it takes a while to get there.

Universal peace as a result of cumulative effort through centuries past might come into existence quickly—not unlike a crystal that suddenly forms in a solution which has been slowly prepared.

Or maybe a liquid crystal display. Will an always-on global network mean the death of distance and the end of war?

The chief cause of war is the vast extent of this planet. The gradual annihilation of distance will put human beings in closer contact and harmonize their views and aspirations.

Brad ’61 is a comic book or graphic novel that follows the same model. It is an old book (it was written in 1993 by Tony Hendra). And it is illustrated by Roy Lichtenstein.

Actually, that isn’t entirely accurate.

Hendra takes some of Lichtenstein’s works from the early 1960s and weaves a story around them. Lichtenstein, of course, was the famous pop artist whose works of appliances and people were dismissed as superficial and nothing original by comic book artists who felt he was essentially using styles and colours perfected by them.

Hendra’s work, which tells the story of an artist named Brad (and uses works from the early 1960s, which could explain the name of the book) is as good as the Tesla interview Wired carried. And Lichtenstein’s illustrations give it a nice pop feel that brings to mind the work of golden age comics. As a comic book, Brad ’61 probably has more novelty value than anything else. Then, graphic novels are meant to be very very graphic and very very novel and Brad ’61 fits the bill.

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