A former child prodigy fails to launch professionally but learns the importance of “heart knowledge,” all in the shadow of the almighty screwball genius god, Albert Einstein.
Ted Halker was the kind of 10-year-old who “just thought light made more…sense…as a semi-solid.” But as he skipped grade after grade in school, always landing at the top of his class, the brilliant child came to the sobering realization that there was “a chasm between knowledge…and knowing”—a point driven home in the high school locker room by an older classmate who loudly observed Ted’s “tiny little weiner.” Nevertheless, Ted persevered, embarking on a career in theoretical physics, marrying a beautiful woman and raising two lovely children, even if his daughter curses her genius for making her a social outcast and his son is a total horn dog (so Ted swears him to masturbation in exchange for a used car of his choice). The wife is great, though…except for her recurring headaches and irascible, senile father, who now lives with the family and torments Ted. But for as much promise as Ted once held, he’s in a long dry spell at work that could put his head on the chopping block. That is, until his father-in-law’s past as a bodyguard for Albert “Bert” Einstein—Ted’s guiding star—provides an opportunity to finally blow the world away. The family drama is winning enough, even with the occasional forays into snarky ham-handedness or oversexed juvenility, but the professional striving feels half-baked, and the reverence for Einstein seems played out. Kristiansen’s art is striking, with etched figures in a mist of smudges and shade, bringing to mind Bill Sienkiewicz by way of Moebius. Kristiansen expresses moments of intellectual rapture as full-page bursts of color and shape, some holding vibrant seismographic patterns. But this abstract beauty doesn’t quite tie into the rest of the tale, and Ted’s world seems too insular, the supporting characters too distant, so even a truly earth-shattering idea seems of little consequence.
Cotton candy masquerading as a meal.