by Steven T. Seagle, Teddy Kristiansen

Ted Marx works hard at his career as a quantum physicist. But lately the demands of his job have begun to overwhelm him. Then Ted makes a startling discovery: his wife's father once knew Einstein and claims that Einstein entrusted to him a final, devastating secret—a secret even more profound and shattering than the work that led to the first atom bombs.


Ted Marx works hard at his career as a quantum physicist. But lately the demands of his job have begun to overwhelm him. Then Ted makes a startling discovery: his wife's father once knew Einstein and claims that Einstein entrusted to him a final, devastating secret—a secret even more profound and shattering than the work that led to the first atom bombs. If Ted can convince his father-in-law to tell him what Einstein had to say, his job will be safe. But does he dare reveal Einstein's most dangerous secret to those who might exploit it?

In their comic book Genius, acclaimed duo Teddy H. Kristiansen and Steven T. Seagle have created an exploration of the heights of intellectual and scientific achievement and the depths of human emotion and confusion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ted Halket advanced rapidly through school as a child after he was recognized as a genius, but his understanding of human relations didn’t develop as quickly as the rest of his intellect. Even when he’s married with two children and holds a prestigious job at a major research institute, Ted is drowning, both personally and professionally. Then his elderly father-in-law, whose health is failing, dangles a dazzling prize: Einstein’s last secret—a scientific truth so huge it will save Ted’s career from encroaching failure. Frequent collaborators Seagle and Kristiansen (It’s a Bird...; House of Secrets) create a sad and sweet virtuoso portrait of a besieged man lost in his own disconnection from humanity. Seagle illuminates Ted’s inability to connect emotionally with his wife and explain sex to his teenage son, and a series of confrontations with his father-in-law escalate like a puzzle-box mystery. Eisner Award–winner Kristiansen’s painted artwork is exquisitely detailed and colored—gorgeous muted pastels and earth tones explode in abstract, psychedelic shades, revealing Einstein’s secret and Ted’s epiphany. Most remarkably, Seagle and Kristiansen allow the connection of words and pictures to mirror the reader’s own comprehension of Ted’s journey to awareness. This touching and affecting story unlocks the secrets of the universe and of a man’s heart. (July)
From the Publisher

“Seagle instills an intellectually minded tale with humble humanity, natural characterizations, and storytelling restraint, letting the visuals speak a good many words and letting others remain hauntingly unspoken.” —Booklist, starred review

“This remarkable, genre-bending work...details a son's search for his missing father and a writer's struggle to tap his own creative impulse.” —People Magazine on It's a Bird...

“Terrifically wry... This is something truly different.” —Entertainment Weekly, Editor's Choice on It's a Bird...

“A smart and touching graphic novel.” —USA Today on It's a Bird...

“Teddy Kristiansen's painted art remains stunning throughout.” —The Onion on It's a Bird...

“[A] compelling personal story, casting a very real narrator in a painfully real struggle with his family history and himself.” —Boston Globe on It's a Bird...

“Cotton candy masquerading as a meal.” —Kirkus Reviews on It's a Bird...

VOYA - Pam Carlson
Ted was a boy genius who now works as a theoretical physicist. He does not appear to have a great relationship with his teenaged kids; his wife may have a brain tumor; and he has no new ideas to advance himself at work. Then, however, he discovers that his father-in-law was once Einstein's bodyguard and the sole recipient of a secret from the man himself. Ted knows that if he can get that information, he can keep his job and his insurance. One problem: his father-in-law drifts in and out of dementia. Is there really a secret? What is it he shares with Ted after finally deciding that Ted has the "man stuff" to handle it? Ted's actions after that are unexpected and inconsistent with what readers have seen of his personality. Wispy, pencil-shaded illustrations on dull beige backgrounds and small print do not make for an appealing book. It is difficult to recognize the audience for this sad little tale. Disillusioned adults hoping to discover their own secrets? The cover, with its imprint of Einstein, may attract a handful of teens but the story will not hold their interest. Reviewer: Pam Carlson
Children's Literature - Toni Jourdan
Ted’s perspective on the world is misunderstood by some and only vaguely understood by others. As a child, he is deemed a genius; his young mind easily devours his schoolwork, which allows him to advance quickly through the grades. As an adult, he marries, has two children, and enjoys a job worthy of a genius at the Pasadena Technical Institute. But ideas can take a while to emerge, even in a genius’ brain. Meanwhile, Ted struggles at home with his wife Hope’s illness, his son’s puberty, and his daughter’s budding genius mind. Hope’s father Francis lives with them as he disappears into his own aging mind. In passing one day, Francis mentions his friendship with Albert Einstein and the secret that Einstein shared with him. He promised Einstein that he’d never share this secret with another human being. Ted could really use this unorthodox boost to his career, and the family could really benefit to income since Hope’s medical costs are high. Is it right to steal Einstein’s idea—even if it is a seemingly “little thing?” Neutral-colored sketches tell Ted’s tale with ambiguous backgrounds and softly muted illustrations. The unfinished feel of the sketches may make the story harder for some readers to follow. Ted’s son Aron looks “girlish,” and the handwritten dialogue is not always easy to discern, with “t’s” and “r’s” resembling each other. At times, the story’s bluntness about Aron seems a bit adult in nature; the characters seem true to themselves, even painfully so at times. The book has a smart perspective that many books lack. Reviewer: Toni Jourdan; Ages 15 up.
Library Journal
When it comes time to decide what to do with his life, quantum physicist Ted Hawker finds himself unwittingly in the same shoes as his kids. His off-the-scale IQ had brought him recognition from the scholarly community and a plum job at Pasadena Technical Institute. But the Big Ideas don't grow out of his head anymore, and his boss isn't happy. Then his batty, wheelchair-bound father-in-law boasts that Einstein once told him a devastating secret. Can Ted coax it out of the old man and use it to jump-start his own faltering career? With two teenagers and a sick wife to support, Ted dearly needs his job. Yet surprisingly, Ted's own Big Idea shows him a different option. From the self-mocking physicist to his hilariously parodied slacker son, crusty father-in-law, and a wistful, imagined vision of Einstein, the engaging characters are what make this story. VERDICT Deep and gently witty, Genius asks us to consider what success means and how a "genius" might use his or her ability. Kristiansen's minimalist, cloudy art mirrors Ted's inner confusion perfectly. An entertaining read for twentysomethings up, with covert punch.—M.C.
Kirkus Reviews
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.

Product Details

First Second
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)
GN430L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Steven T. Seagle is the seven-time Eisner Award-nominated writer best known for his semi-autobiographical graphic novel, It's a Bird . . . illustrated by Teddy H. Kristiansen. He is a two-time GLAAD Media Award-nominee for his series American Virgin. Seagle is a co-founder of Man of Action Studios, creators of Ben 10 and Generator Rex. Genius is his most recent graphic novel. He also writes and directs for the stage.

Teddy H. Kristiansen is a Eisner Award-winning artist from the faraway land of Denmark who spends a lot of time with his computer and the many books in his house. (Too many, according to his wife.) In addition to his work in animation and children's books, Kristiansen is a critically-acclaimed comics artist. Genius is his second collaboration with writer Steven Seagle.

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