Review: Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life

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On November 6, 2018, Humanoids released Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life by writer William Roy and artist Sylvain Dorange. The new graphic novel follows the life and career of Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Marie Kiesler from her birth on November 9, 1914, to after her death on January 19, 2000, in only 178 pages.

 A star of the silver screen by day and revolutionary inventor by night, the average American probably didn’t learn about Lamarr in their history class. In addition to fashioning designs to revolutionize the planes built by Howard Hughes, Lamarr claimed the patent for a device that helped give the allies the advantage over the Nazi regime in World War II and lead to the modern digital age of Wi-Fi and cell phones as we know it.

For the most part, the graphic novel reads like a chronological timeline giving an overview of important moments in Lamarr’s personal life and career. The novel zooms in to provide details with dialogue scenes, tabloid headlines and/or advertisements. The reader is left feeling a bit far from Lamarr as an outsider peeking in. However, it’s obvious that Roy took care in showcasing what a complex person Lamarr was.

The artist, Sylvain Dorange, really brought the comic to life by using a dynamic variety of color schemes throughout the novel to mimic old advertisements, black and white screens and real life. It isn’t hard to see how they could animate the trailer to the graphic novel either. Lamarr and the others depicted in the novel really come alive off the page (or screen) with their energetic poses and facial expressions. 

My favorite pages of the graphic novel were the last few pages, where the novel displays Lamarr’s impact by visualizing a video buffering, cell phones, Wi-Fi and broadcasting signals. The panels zoom out until you see the Earth from space. They did a beautiful job here showcasing how Lamarr’s genius has impacted our lives.

Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life was really well done and a great read. Though Lamarr’s story has been explored in other formats, the addition of this graphic novel is wonderful. It’s a really accessible format that all ages can enjoy.

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