Genius is a new graphic novel written by Steven T Seagle and drawn by Teddy Kristiansen and it's not really like any other graphic novels I've read. In a very good way.
Ted Marx is a physicist, and he's a genius. That's what he's been told all his life, ever since he started skipping grades in elementary school. It's only natural that he'd be recruited directly out of grad school and into a world-famous physics institute, but once he reaches it, he flames out. Ted Marx appears to have had all his significant physics insights while he was still an adolescent, and whatever well he visited for those insights has run dry. He's terrified of losing his job. He needs the money to shelter and feed his two adolescent children, his dying and terminally grumpy father-in-law, and his wife, whose persistent headaches are about to take a turn for the worse.
Ted worships Einstein, and frequently holds imaginary conversations with him, so imagine his surprise when he learns that his hateful, spiteful, senile father-in-law was once military guard to Einstein, part spy, part confessor. And what's more, the old man says that Einstein entrusted him with an idea that he never told anyone else, an idea that he's kept secret, true to his oath, for all these years. And if there's one thing that Ted really needs, it's an idea.
Genius is a remarkable book about some very difficult-to-illustrate subjects: creativity, inspiration, and yes, genius. Kristiansen's moody, impressionistic watercolor illustrations -- not usually my kind of thing -- perfect for the material. There's a full-blown, multi-page spread of pure abstraction that is so right and fitting that it made me wonder why we bother with words at all.
I'm not familiar with either of these creators' work (though apparently Seagle co-founded the studio that created the kids' megafranchise Ben-10). But based on this, I'm adding them to my "buy-everything-they-do" list.
Don't take my word for it -- click through below for the prolog and first couple pages of chapter one, courtesy of our pals at FirstSecond.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.