JENS HARDER. THE STORY OF PLANET A - 14 Billion Years of Earth History in Comic
Stone Age Man with Flintstone, panel from Comic The story of Planet A. by J.Harder
Copyright: © Jens Harder, Carlsen Verlag Hamburg
From the Big Bang to the distant future
Jens Harder tells the story of our planet in an impressive comic trilogy. His award-winning pictorial history can now be experienced, for the first time in Germany and Europe, as a complete exhibition at the Völklingen Ironworks World Cultural Heritage Site, this unique monument to industrialisation and the man-made age.
Jens Harder on "The Story of Planet A"
"I wanted to bundle everything that makes us and moves us as human beings in this stream of images, but also everything that I have been interested in since my early childhood, that can be so wonderfully drawn and condensed. Science in all its forms – astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, palaeontology, archaeology, art and cultural history – embedded in a narrative that spans a billion years. The most diverse temporal sequences unfold slowly but inexorably before our eyes, as if in a frozen animated film."
14 billion years of earth history
This is how Jens Harder describes his award-winning geological history in comics, the third volume of which was recently published by the Carlsen publishing company. With Jens Harder as well, everything began and begins about 14 billion years ago with the Big Bang, followed by the formation of planet Earth and the evolution of plants and the animal world. In the second volume, he continues with the history of mammals and prehistoric man to the beginning of our modern era. The latest and third book in his great story takes us to the period from year 1 in Antiquity to the atomic age – two thousand years in two thousand pictures.
The result is a veritable encyclopaedia of the Earth. None of the pictures is invented: Jens Harder found them over years of research, and then put them together in a gigantic picture mosaic. He combines myriads of images in this grand narrative – the very images that people have made of the world since time immemorial: from the earliest cave paintings to the imagery of modern and contemporary science, art and advertising. Again and again he concisely establishes associative cross-references between the times, provoking veritable leaps in knowledge. The result is an idiosyncratic and impressive panopticon of planetary history.
Why the Völklingen Ironworks?
"As a unique testimony to industrialisation, the Völklingen Ironworks is also exemplary of the man-made age, the Anthropocene. However, the ores and coal that were mined and processed into iron and steel here in the industrial age are treasures of the Earth that were created billions of years ago. Jens Harder's imagery shows us these overall contexts when he leads us, in fast motion, through our planet's history. Not only is the light from the beginning of the universe still there ...," says Director General Dr. Ralf Beil.
Jens Harder was born in Weißwasser / GDR in 1970. He studied graphics at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee, and today is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator in Berlin. In 1999 he and various fellow students founded the comic group Monogatari, in whose collective albums he subsequently published his own contributions.
He published his first book in France in 2003 with the publisher Éditions de l'An. The approximately 150-page album entitled "Leviathan" is the dramatic story of a sperm whale, accompanied by quotes from Herman Melville and Thomas Hobbes printed in four languages. He received the Max and Moritz Prize for the "best German-language comic publication" at the Comic-Salon Erlangen in 2004.
Another award winner is the series "Alpha Beta Gamma" on the history of our planet. The first volume "Alpha ...directions" – first published by the French publisher Actes Sud and awarded the Prix de l’audace at the Festival de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême – was published by Carlsen in 2010, and also received the Max and Moritz Prize that same year. In 2011 Jens Harder also received the Hans Meid Prize for Book Illustration.