That is the true next level in comics’ ascendance, as WaPo sends book guy Bob Thompson to see what all the excitement is about:

To a lifelong Prose Guy, whose idea of a good time involves a comfortable couch and a book full of nothing but words, the graphic novel galaxy can still feel far, far away.

Yes, I know comics can be ambitious and aimed at adults. Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” made this indisputable two decades ago, and there has been plenty of impressive work done since. But I can’t help wondering, even as I begin to explore the rise of what’s sometimes called “sequential art,” if I can ever overcome my personal bias toward prose.

The lengthy piece is accompanied by a comic drawn by Jonathan Bennett depicting the history of RAW, etc. in an enchanting clear ligne style.


  1. John Bennett – I don’t have blog accounts, so I couldn’t comment at your blog. I’m the librarian you drew for the panel on the second strip (Gaining Steam), with the boys gathered around the reference desk. You drew the librarian as kind of Chinese looking, and my husband says the mouth is totally different, but otherwise it could be me (I’m half-Japanese) – short hair, the style of glasses, all that. Quite amazing. And the ethnic mix of boys was about right. The librarian’s line is a direct quote from my interview with Thompson. When I saw the comics panels this morning, I squealed! Fun to see oneself in a comic! Thank you!

  2. Kat, thanks for posting that message. That’s funny. I had no direction or reference for your character so I guess it’s just a fluke that there are any similarities. Glad you liked the piece!

  3. That particular panel listed a number of books that will indeed be published. Thompson talked with Thomas Le Bien of Hill & Wang, and the Constitution gn will be published in October.

  4. It was great to see the way this story kept growing through out. It was great to see Bob join us for the SPLAT symposium and take the story from there.

    As for J Bennet’s work, very fun to read as well. My only addition to the Mouly panel is that their home reminds me more of Picasso’s living room…not that I ever visited Picasso mind you.

    Thanks again, to Bob Thompson for a great story about this new world!

  5. Re: Cartoon Constitution… 2 1/2 titles. The most accessible (currently) is located within Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the United States (and in a slightly different form in the Cartoon History of the Universe, vol. 4)

    Cartoon Guide to the Constitution of the United States by Eric Lurio (long out of print, and a bit rough in areas, but amazing for the period it came out)

    And… The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell.

    There’s also a series of short magazine style comics published in Maryland, (found them in National Park Service gift shops) which illustrate different aspects of how the Government works. and lots of educational publishers are churning out books, but that’s hit and miss.

    And before we forget, there was a small graphic novel boom when Maus was published, circa 1987… I remember the spinner racks featuring DC and Marvel graphic *albums* (when they started using ISBNs!), as well as the RAW anthologies from Penguin in the humor section, as well as a few GNs (mostly Star Trek and Elfquest) in the Science Fiction section of B. Dalton and Waldenbooks. (And as late as 1997, there were only SIX graphic novel publishers available to trade bookstores!) Of course, this was overshadowed by the “Comicstrip Boom” starting with Garfield and ending with Calvin & Hobbes and the Far Side, when those comicstrip collections would hit the New York Times bestseller lists for miscelaneous titles.

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