Laika by Nick Abadzis
First Second, New York, 2007
Nick Abadzis has written a chronicle of the early Soviet space program and the little dog sent up in a satellite, never to return to earth. It is a combination of fact and fiction, describing Laika’s early life and the different people who knew her. It tells of the political pressure to get a living being into space, the conflicts within the space program and the tender influence Laika had on those around her.
The story of her death was initially ignored by the European and U.S. press in favor of the “space race” and the cold war dilemma of Russian dominance in space. The question of animals sacrificed in the name of science was not one discussed at the time. Laika’s death created an opening for this discussion to begin, perhaps paving the way for the demand to end to mistreatment of animals, the idea of animal rights and the creation of animal havens.
Sadness is balanced by the beautifully drawn and colored graphics depicting the frigid wastes of Siberia, the streets of Russian cities, the research laboratories and Laika’s dreams of flying and “seeing everything from here.” It would be a wonderfully introduction to the graphic novel genre but be forewarned, I was in tears by the end of the book.