08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail by Michael Crowley and Dan Goldman

Categories:  Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail
By Michael Crowley and Dan Goldman
Three Rivers Press

michaelcrowley08coverThe non-fiction graphic novel has, by most accounts been largely neglected. Those well-received works that have ventured into that world—Maus, Palestine, Perselopis, et al.—have largely been content to bide by independent comics’ fiction with the first-person narrative. This fact takes nothing away from their staggering importance to the medium—all of the above bravely tackled difficult and important issues while bringing comics a new-found level of respect both among the literati and a mainstream readership.

Their fixation with the memoir does, however, point to a seemingly fundamental hang up with the style—illustrated by that troublesome label “graphic novel,” a term which, in its very essence, implies some form of fictionalization, or, at the very least, the sort of first-person storytelling that often designates prose books for the fiction shelves. In a sense, it also points to a problem with scope.

There are few sufficiently educated in the world of sequential art who would argue that the medium presents more limitations its prose counterparts.  But as is often the case, it takes an outsider to shake things up. Michael Crowley’s 08 is hardly the first book to prevent a news-styled piece of graphic non-fiction, but it certainly is a member of a far rarer breed than one might reasonably expect.

Read the rest of this entry »

Election 2008: An Interview with Tim Kreider

Categories:  Features, Interviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

For hundreds of years, editorial cartooning has played a role central to the political process, criticizing, lampooning, and generally bringing down a peg those who have chosen to place themselves on soapboxes. The medium has proven itself an ideal format for those subject matters we’ve otherwise had difficultly expressing by other means.

We’re two days away from what many on all sides of the political divide have deemed the most important election of their lifetime, and while we’re not quite at the finish line looking back, we’ve certainly experienced enough over the past ten months to give us a fitting picture of how the majority of the 2008 presidential election has played out. The time seemed opportune to speak with a veteran political cartoonist about the ways in which the race has played out on their end—a state of the union of sorts for editorial cartooning.

When I put the call out suggested interviewees (thanks, Twitter), the majority of responses turned to Tim Kreider. Kreider has been producing his weekly strip, The Pain—When Will it End, since 1997. About three years into the process, said pain turned external, and the artist’s work shifted its focus toward the political, a move which soon consumed his work, transforming him, for better or worse, into a full-fledged political cartoonist.

Kreider’s work has since been anthologized as two books by Fantagraphics: The Pain—When will it End and Why do They Kill Me? Recently, the artist announced plans to end the publication of  his weekly strip in its current form, early next year.

We spoke to Kreider about the state of editorial cartooning in 2008, the role of equal time, and what precisely his proposed retirement means.

Read the rest of this entry »