Comic Conversations: The Manhattan Projects and Dr. Richard Feynman

Two comics about The Manhattan Project and some of the scientists who worked there!


You remember the Manhattan Project, right? The secret project that began at the outbreak of World War II that eventually developed the atomic bomb?

Today I've got two very different comics related to the Manhattan Project. First up is a comic biography of Richard Feynman called...

"Feynman," written by Jim Ottaviani, art by Leland Myrick and coloring by Hilary Sycamore

I first read books by Jim Ottaviani when I picked up "Two Fisted Science" at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival many years back. Since then I've read more by him, including a mini-comic about quantum entanglement called "Quantum entanglement, spooky action at a distance, teleportation, and you," which was a very entertaining look at the idea of quantum entanglement, and "Suspended in Language," which was a comic biography of Niels Bohr who also worked on the Manhattan Project.

Richard Feynman was an incredible person, which makes for a fun comic. He was always very vocal about everything so a lot of the story of his life is in his own words.

One of my favorite stories about him was from his time with the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. Feynman liked to crack safes for fun. He soon got famous at the facility for being able to get into the locked filing cabinets of scientists who weren't on base when somebody else needed their work.

Then one day he unlocked the safe of a high ranking military man on the base who got furious. Feynman pointed out that instead of getting angry with him they should get better safes.

There's a similar incident at the Los Alamos base where he found a hole in the fence so he was able to sneak back in without going through the checkpoint. He would do this over and over again in a day until finally the soldier at the entrance noticed that Feynman would leave but was never seen coming back. Then they arrested him for sneaking into a military base.

"How about instead of arresting me you fix the hole!"

Just as a word of warning to some of you, there is some math in the book -- math and diagrams describing Feynman's quantum electrodynamics which describes how light and matter interact. I know some people will be put off by this but I find it very interesting.

This is a great look at Feynman's life but from here there's so many more places you can look. A lot of the stories in the book I had heard already because I've read some of Feynman's own books so this is a good starting point about him. I would also recommend just looking him up on YouTube and listening to him speak.

The other Manhattan Project related comic is:

"The Manhattan Projects #1" story by Jonathan Hickman, art by Nick Pitarra and Cris Peter

This first issue both begins and ends with quotes from Feynman, although they aren't real quotes. This series is about what else the Manhattan Project was working on besides the atomic bomb, which means all sorts of crazy science fiction weaponry.

It starts with Robert Oppenheimer, who is best remembered as the "father of the atomic bomb" and who quoted the Bhagavad Gita after the first bomb was detonated: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

He's hired on as the civilian head of the Manhattan Projects and immediately brought in to the weirdness.

In this issue, Oppenheimer finds Einstein locked in a room, the facility is attacked by Japan's Zen Powered Death Buddhists and we discover the truth about Oppenheimer's twin brother.

I'm really looking forward to next month's issue and I hope Feynman shows up as a character in the comic.

I'm a big fan of Jonathan Hickman's comics and especially recommend "The Nightly News," which is about the manipulation of the mainstream media, and "Pax Romana," which is about the Catholic Church using time travel to manipulate the past in their favor.

I've also liked his Marvel work on Fantastic Four, Secret Warriors and SHIELD. I'm pretty much on-board with whatever he's got coming up because he's written such fantastic science fiction stories.

Now, next week I'll be headed to to pick up "Batgirl," "Batwoman," "Glory," "Adventure Time #2" (!), and Paul Cornell's "Saucer Country #1," which is about aliens in New Mexico that I'm looking forward to and will probably be writing about next week.

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