T-Minus: graphic novel tells the history of the space race

Jim Ottaviani's new science history graphic novel, T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, is a fast-paced, informative recounting of the events beginning with the launch of Sputnik, the first human-made satellite on Oct 4, 1957, to the first human landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.

I know Ottaviani's work through his much older book Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists, which is one of my favorite comic history books, a vivid retelling of the lives of some of science's most inspiring women.

With T-Minus Ottaviani once again brings the human side of science to life, conveying the passion, the wonder, and the frustrations of the scientists and engineers who "fought" the space race on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Superbly researched, T-Minus never lets go of the story, but still finds many sneaky ways of inserting the hard data about the rockets, their capabilities, and the scientists who worked on them into the book.

Intended for young adults, this title was incredibly satisfying to me, an adult-adult (which is as it should be). I could also appreciate how a younger me would have revelled in the frequent sidebars giving diagrams and statistics for each rocket launched in the race, and both of us appreciated the lovely attention to the human details in the lives of the people in the story, like the cosmonaut whose father thinks "sitting on a rocket is no work for a grown man," the sheer wonder conveyed in the real-life words of the first people to do spacewalks, the Gulag-haunted Russian scientist Sergei Pavlovich's chronic (and eventually fatal) injuries from his prison term, and many other gracenotes.

As a history book or a diverting and inspiring story, T-Minus gets the job done.

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon


  1. Was there really a race to the moon? Russians got there, then went on to build practical ICBM systems and space stations, so makes it seem like a race of one.

  2. Ottaviani’s brilliant collaborators on this, the brothers Cannon (bigtimeattic.com) have been crazy prolific lately. They illustrated ANOTHER science novel on genetics, The Stuff of Life, that came out the other month… and this month Kevin Cannon’s incredible, hilarious cliffhanger adventure about an arctic pirate named Armitage Shanks, Far Arden, is coming out from Top Shelf this month (it was serialized online on his website at kevincannon.org).

  3. Ditto on the Cannon brothers. Zander Cannon was one of the artists on Alan Moore’s Top 10 series from America’s Best Comics/Wildstorm (Gene Ha was the other), and his other stuff is great as well.

  4. I hope space food is chronicled. What were they eating up there? Kraft and Tang or beef jerky? What about space salad? Where can I get this? I’m hungry now! I want to eat a fish.

Comments are closed.