What we have here, in Apollo, is a (relatively) straight graphic retelling of how three men got to the moon in 1969. The art – which is both striking and apposite – recalls comics I read as a child in the 70s (which themselves harked back to a style set in place in the 50s). As such, Mike Collins (who illustrated) and Ian Sharman (Letters), Kris Carter and Jason Cardy (Colours) all warrant calling out because they impressively recreate a sense of how the world might have been perceived by those people who possibly read comics at the time. Apollo is no period piece, though, as Fitch and Baker’s impressively non-linear story-telling heartily demonstrates.
There are three men: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. We are with them during take-off. We are with them as they toast a previous, disastrous attempt in which three spacemen in utero were burned alive in their cockpit. We see their families. Their wives and children. We witness the various key points of the flight that took them all the way to the moon and then back again. We are privy to their arguments about who gets to step out first on to the moon itself. In lots of ways, they tell the story as it should be told. A young(ish) kid could read this and learn a lot. Same applies to (ahem) someone who isn’t a youngish kid. Ever so quietly, Fitch, Baker and Collins do something a little bit special. They rectify small wrongs – such as, giving Mike Collins a much warranted space on the pedestal besides those men who, you know, actually stepped on the moon, such as, giving a place to the women who had to stay behind and get on with the not inconsequential job of raising children. There’s a level-headed balance at work here and a sympathetic modernism.
Apollo also feels important for another reason. A few weeks ago, we had the sad misfortune of seeing three grown-up, seemingly intelligent men talking to Phil and Holly on This Morning about how they think the world is flat. That’s right. In 2018, there are people who think that the Earth is flat. Other planets in the solar system are round, they say. It’s just the Earth. Which is flat. And Australia doesn’t exist. It’s a myth. And anything that shows us the world from space is a Hollywood trick. The moon landings were, of course, fraudulent. Filmed by Kubrick. There are in addition to the flat earthers, a great many people who think the moon landings didn’t happen. It doesn’t matter how many new photographs NASA release, the moon landings didn’t happen. If this doesn’t make you feel weary right down into the marrow of your bones, well… you are a better person than me (or you think that the moon landings didn’t happen). Two things: (i) the Russians and the Americans were far from being allies at the height of the Cold War and they watched each other’s every move – if one of them faked the moon landings, the other side would have called it out, simple as; and (ii) we need books like Apollo more than ever, to state, for the record, what went on, in a historically accurate way to stand up against anyone who would dismiss actual events as Hollywood trickery or fake news or whatever. The fact that it’s actually a decent version of the story, well told and with eye–catching art is all the better.
Any Cop?: A much needed sop to all of the world’s craziness – here is the story of the Moon landings, as they happened. Deal with it, crazies.