Lights, Planets, People!
Lights, Planets, People! is a graphic novel adaptation of Molly Naylor’s play, illustrated by Lizzy Stewart. Yet it manages to use the comic format beautifully to show us multiple levels of communication.
Maggie is an astronomer. We see her giving a lecture to inspire young women to pursue science, alternating with her flashbacks to her lifetime of work, from days where she was the only woman to the outcome of the project she spent years on. She’s also seeing a therapist, for the first time, to deal with anxiety over this lecture, and her conversation there reveals more about her struggles mentally and with relationships.
The soft colors used are comfortable, although the strong palette choices provide important clues. The lecture hall is cream and deep orange, similar to the way the light of a projector puts everything in high contrast, but with more warmth. At the therapist, Maggie is white against pastel backgrounds. Her dialogue is darkly lettered capitals, while the therapist’s voice is orange cursive, to make the alternating voices clear. Her history is in blue. She wears yellow, her partner the orange used in the classroom. It ties things together thematically. Overall, it’s a masterful use of the medium to make things clear without the reader having to consciously think about them.
As the book continued, I remained curious about what made Maggie who she was. I related to a number of her challenges, from struggling to be taken seriously when studying science to figuring out how to relate to others closely.
Maggie has faced a lot of obstacles, and I wished she’d dealt with some of them differently, but that I wanted to give her advice is a good sign of how real her character was to me. And at times, she says some remarkably smart things, particularly when advising the next generation.
Lights, Planets, People! is due out September 28 and can be ordered now from your local comic shop with Diamond code JUL21 1359. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)