Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography

Overview

Some Presidents Were Just Meant To Be In Pictures

It confronted evil empires, planned Star Wars missile defense systems, and advocated supply-side economics. Let's face it: Ronald Reagan's presidency is tailor-made for comic-book art. Whether explaining how the onetime Franklin Roosevelt New Dealer became the conservative right's standard-bearer, how a B-list actor became General Motors's pitchman then governor of California, or how a union president became an anti-union ...

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Overview

Some Presidents Were Just Meant To Be In Pictures

It confronted evil empires, planned Star Wars missile defense systems, and advocated supply-side economics. Let's face it: Ronald Reagan's presidency is tailor-made for comic-book art. Whether explaining how the onetime Franklin Roosevelt New Dealer became the conservative right's standard-bearer, how a B-list actor became General Motors's pitchman then governor of California, or how a union president became an anti-union President, this graphic biography does what no other biography can: visually narrate the life of a man who relied on stage directions and political theater to become America's "Great Communicator." The blended genius of Andrew Helfer (onetime group editor at DC Comics), Steve Buccellato (whose artwork has been published by Epic, Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse), and Joe Staton (artist for E-Man, Green Lantern, and most recently Scooby-Doo) makes Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography an absolutely original, absolutely factual, and absolutely unforgettable history of America's fortieth president.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this 112-page novel graphic, Road to Perdition editor Andrew Helfer and comic artist Steve Buccellato to use their respective skills render the long and varied careers of Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), the man who came to be known as the Teflon President. A unique visual take on the life of the 40th chief executive.
From the Publisher
“As compelling as it is serious and objective.” —Esquire

“Looking for insights into the phenomena of the Reagan presidency, its resilience in the face of one imbroglio after another disaster? Turn not to Edmund White’s authorized whimsy, but rather to Andrew Helfer’s graphic biography, which wraps astute political reporting in brightly entertaining artwork from Buccellato (Joey Berserk and Claire) and Staton (E-Man) . . . Helfer tells a smooth story washed with facts about a slick political operator who never let facts get in the way of a good speech.” —Kirkus Reviews, Graphic Spotlight

“RONALD REAGAN: A GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY . . . does what many traditional tomes couldn’t do: it illuminates Reagan’s achievements and foibles in sharp literary cinema. A unique take on one of America’s most controversial presidents.” —Christian Science Monitor

“It’s fitting, perhaps, that a man who first became famous in image-conscious Hollywood is now getting a visual biography treatment . . . whimsical, informative and entertaining—whatever your political leanings.” —Sacramento Bee

“To portray the story of Reagan’s road to and life in the White House as a comic strip may seem a trivial means for imparting a grand political message, but the effort turns out to be both ingenious and fair minded, showing with admirable impartiality how a poor boy from Tampico, Ill., became president via commentating on football matches, acting in Hollywood pictures, as a celebrity spokesman for General Electric, and becoming governor of California . . . the Reagan graphic biography lifts the ambition of the form to a new plane.” —New York Sun

"Part primer, part polemic, this graphic biography scratches the surface of what its creators depict as a comic-book presidency. Though the life of Ronald Reagan has previously inspired a number of longer biographies, even some of those have suggested that the challenge of coming to terms with the "Great Communicator" is that there wasn't much intellectual depth beneath the actor's engaging facade. Written by Helfer (Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography, 2006, etc.), a former group editor at DC Comics, this hit-and-run graphic narrative reinforces that position . . . In Hollywood, [Reagan] made more of an impression as a union activist and corporate pitchman than through most of the roles he secured as an actor, while failing at a first marriage that seemed more like a career convenience. It was in politics he found his greatest success, the role of a lifetime, as long as he kept things simple and stuck to the script. (When he went off-message, he was likely to make claims that had no basis in fact.) The narrative touches all the high points: his transformation into conservative crusader and election to the governorship of California, the adoring Nancy, the striking contrast he presented to the ineffectual Jimmy Carter, a presidency marked by an assassination attempt and the Iran-Contra, arms-for-hostages scandal (one of the controversies that the Teflon president deflected with a convenient lapse of memory), the long fade into the Alzheimer's sunset. Gives credit where due."—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Ronald Reagan was a controversial president, no question. Revered by some, reviled by others, he was acknowledged to be an orator of the highest order. This "graphic biography" sets out to explore Reagan's life, but the creative team seems unsure which side they're on, so they veer between gauzy hagiography and hard-fact criticism without ever offering a coherent thesis about Reagan's appeal or legacy. Helfer (Batman: Journey into Night) is strongest when he lets Reagan speak for himself (the dialogue on the page when Reagan is shot is particularly effective). Buccellato (Battle of the Bands) and Staton (Green Lantern) provide interesting graphics-showing the rapid successive deaths of the hardliners who preceded Gorbachev as a series of X-ed out portraits, or unraveling the complicated self-dealing behind Reagan's GE Theaterjob with a cleverly modified organization chart. Overall, the cartoony art fits Reagan's "aw-shucks" persona, but undercuts Helfer's discussion of Reagan-era scandals. Helfer also crowds more powerful images (like the Challengerexplosion) with wordy caption boxes. This book makes an adequate primer of the Reagan era, but the lack of coherence limits its appeal. There are too many jabs for Reagan's disciples, and not enough bite for his critics. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up -The facts of Reagana's life and times are entertainingly presented. Illustrated in a breezy, Mad Magazine style, this slyly witty book can be enjoyed both by detractors, who could read it as a tongue-in-cheek work, and by staunch admirers of the late ex-president. Sharing some of the clever-but-realistic illustrations (Fawn Hall, Oliver Northa's secretary, has a hairdo that fills each panel shea's in to bursting) or reading parts aloud is irresistible enough that therea's potential here for viral handselling.-Dana Cobern-Kullman, Luther Burbank Middle School, Burbank, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Part primer, part polemic, this graphic biography scratches the surface of what its creators depict as a comic-book presidency. Though the life of Ronald Reagan has previously inspired a number of longer biographies, even some of those have suggested that the challenge of coming to terms with the "Great Communicator" is that there wasn't much intellectual depth beneath the actor's engaging facade. Written by Helfer (Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography, 2006, etc.), a former group editor at DC Comics, this hit-and-run graphic narrative reinforces that position, taking a tour through the life of a man who began playing roles as a nearsighted teenage lifeguard (when his record of 77 rescues was apparently inflated by aiding those who were in no danger of drowning) and then mastered the art of dramatizing baseball games where he wasn't in attendance as a studio radio announcer. In Hollywood, he made more of an impression as a union activist and corporate pitchman than through most of the roles he secured as an actor, while failing at a first marriage that seemed more like a career convenience. It was in politics he found his greatest success, the role of a lifetime, as long as he kept things simple and stuck to the script. (When he went off-message, he was likely to make claims that had no basis in fact.) The narrative touches all the high points: his transformation into conservative crusader and election to the governorship of California, the adoring Nancy, the striking contrast he presented to the ineffectual Jimmy Carter, a presidency marked by an assassination attempt and the Iran-Contra, arms-for-hostages scandal (one of the controversies that the Teflon president deflected with a convenientlapse of memory), the long fade into the Alzheimer's sunset. Gives credit where due, but not in a manner that is likely to please conservative partisans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809095070
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 641,019
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Helfer has written everything from Batman to Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. Steve Buccellato is an award-winning cartoonist and Joe Staton has drawn for everyone from Charton Comics to DC Comics.

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