Fifty years after her flight, a new graphic novel recounts the saga of the dog that made space history.
- By Tony Reichhardt
- AirSpaceMag.com, November 01, 2007
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A&S: Sergei Korolev is a major character in the book—in fact you open the story with him. Did I read that you’re interested in doing a longer treatment of his story?
Abadzis: The original plan I had was to do something more on Korolev’s life. It wasn’t possible in the 200 pages of this book. But I have an abiding interest in these things, so I did envision a trilogy, the first on Laika, then Yuri Gagarin, then Korolev, the book that would bind together the first two. Whether that will come to pass is something I have to discuss with my publisher. Laika took it out of me, though. I did the artwork in an extremely short span of time. That kind of pressure-cooker atmosphere I felt was entirely correct, because it gave me the emotional "in" to the same enormous pressure that the scientists who did the Sputnik 2 mission felt.
A&S: They were in an almost impossible hurry.
Abadzis: It’s just astonishing when you think about it now. The first Sputnik was done at an incredibly speedy rate, but the second one, Laika’s mission, was put up there in a month, which by any standard—today’s or yesterday’s—is absolutely extraordinary. The mission came as a complete surprise [to the biomedical scientists]. They had a pool of dogs they’d been launching on their Cosmo-dog program to gain medical data. They were vertical rocket launches into the upper atmosphere and the edge of space. They always tried to get their dogs back. But this idea of lofting an animal, Laika, into orbit, was something that came completely out of the blue for everybody.
A&S: She’s still the only space explorer sent on a one-way mission.
Abadzis: That’s correct. Laika’s the only creature from Earth sent out there without any kind of escape plan or express intention of getting her home. That certainly lends to the loneliness and mythic nature of her story.
A&S: There’s also an anti-heroic tone to it. What are your thoughts about what’s sometimes called the "conquest of space?" Is it a noble, heroic mission, or is it hubris?
Abadzis: I don’t know if I believe in heroes any more. Everyday people have heroes all around them. I think you have to be very, very brave to be an astronaut or explorer of any kind. But the idea we have of icons and heroes needs to be stretched so that we can see that the details of anybody’s life are as human as anyone else’s.