With uncommon perception and a flair for visual drama, Phelan tracks three intrepid souls’ solo journeys around the world.
In 1884, Thomas Stevens rode a bicycle from San Francisco to Boston, and then decided to extend the outing—to Yokohama. Journalist Nellie Bly set out in 1889 to beat the 80-day schedule suggested in Jules Verne’s novel (meeting the encouraging author along the way and bettering the novel’s time by two days). Mariner Joshua Slocum took the most circuitous route, sailing over 46,000 miles between 1895 and 1898 accompanied only by poignant memories of his first wife. Adding brief bridging captions or snatches of dialogue to quoted comments from their subsequent memoirs, Phelan highlights the experiences and reflections of each in cinematic sequences of delicately drawn panels. By focusing on the travelers’ faces, he captures their distinct characters (and shared rock-steady determination) with such force and clarity that readers can’t help but be swept along by Stevens’ aggressive mustache, Bly’s steely glare at male doubters and nay-sayers, the aching heart visible behind Slocum’s tough, grizzled countenance. The author rounds off each account with an epilogue, then closes with a thoughtful note and a source list.
Three true tales of adventure as grand and admirable in the telling as they were in the doing. (Graphic nonfiction. 10-13)