Brain Pickings

An Illustrated Chronicle of the Space Race


Astronauts vs. cosmonauts, Apollo vs. Sputnik, and what Gagarin had to do with JFK.

“It’s part of the nature of man to start with romance and build to a reality,” Ray Bradbury poignantly proclaimed in his 1971 discussion with Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke on the future of space exploration, as the Space Age — the golden age of breakthroughs in space travel on both sides of the Iron Curtain between 1957 and 1975 — was approaching its nadir. And yet four decades later, we seem to have lost our zest for romance as the future of space exploration hangs in precarious balance.

From London-based illustrator Tom Clohosy Cole and the fine folks at British indie press Nobrow, who brought us Blexbolex’s brilliant No Man’s Land, one of the best art books of 2012, comes Space Race (public library; UK) — a vibrantly illustrated chronicle of that bygone era of cosmic dreams. Cole’s vintage-inspired aesthetic, reminiscent of Charley Harper and The Provensens, pays homage to the era’s stylistic sensibilities while remaining refreshingly original.

Space Race comes from Nobrow’s wonderful Leporello series, which also includes Bicycle, inspired by the 2012 Olympics, and the forthcoming Worse Things Happen at Sea, inspired by the tales of doomed voyages passed down across generations of sailors.

Images courtesy Nobrow Press

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