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Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography

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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 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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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 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.

30 review for Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Althea J.

    A super-accessible account of Reagan's life and political persona. I was too young to understand the events of his Presidency at the time that they went down, but I'm very aware of what a huge impact he has had on the political landscape to this day. His legacy is constantly being invoked and heralded by politicians and pundits on the right. I was curious about the details of his life and political career, and even more curious about why he is seen as such an enduring symbol of Republican A super-accessible account of Reagan's life and political persona. I was too young to understand the events of his Presidency at the time that they went down, but I'm very aware of what a huge impact he has had on the political landscape to this day. His legacy is constantly being invoked and heralded by politicians and pundits on the right. I was curious about the details of his life and political career, and even more curious about why he is seen as such an enduring symbol of Republican greatness. This "Graphic Biography" was a fantastic read --- it went into the events of his life with a humor and story arc that recognized his achievements while simultaneously acknowledging the discrepancies between the story that was told and the truth of the situation. A thread throughout the book is acknowledging the flaws of a man who valued a good story over the truthy details. (My favorite is his record of lives saved as a lifeguard, and his reveal later in life that many of the people he "rescued" denied ever needing help in the first place.) But the book ultimately portrays a well-meaning guy with strong convictions. Understanding the fuzzy line between Reagan the man and Reagan the actor was a telling insight into the cult of personality that surrounds this political figure. I would have enjoyed more specifics regarding his policies and the impact they had, but this 'honed curiosity' proves the book's success as an easy-access "in" to a subject matter that inspires the reader's further investigation. And that is a great indicator of something's educative capacity -- the extent to which it inspires an individual's curiosity and sparks their efforts to dig deeper. I love finding examples of the graphic novel medium that exemplify its potential as a teaching tool.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darin

    Graphic nonfiction novels are not easy to review because they exist on two planes: they are both art and information at one time. But they must generally considered to be more nonfiction than art. If the content isn't any good, it's hard to enjoy the art. This book has that problem The art is very, very good...cartoony while still doing a good job at resembling the actual people and events. However, the content is biased at best and inaccurate at worst. If this were the only thing you knew about Graphic nonfiction novels are not easy to review because they exist on two planes: they are both art and information at one time. But they must generally considered to be more nonfiction than art. If the content isn't any good, it's hard to enjoy the art. This book has that problem The art is very, very good...cartoony while still doing a good job at resembling the actual people and events. However, the content is biased at best and inaccurate at worst. If this were the only thing you knew about Reagan, you would be forced to assume (as the authors do) that the country believes nothing true about Reagan, and that the mass of them were simply deluded about the way things work in the world. If you do, that's fine, but it's not the truth. The authors here give Reagan no credit for anything and assign all of his successes to either deceit, luck, or pure stupidity. So, in the end, great art + wildly biased factual information = below-average book. If you know enough to separate fact from opinion, you'll like it. If this is the only book you care to read on Reagan's legacy, don't bother.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barron

    Contains a lot of factual inaccuracies... tries to present an "unvarnished" negative perspective, but in doing so it omits relevant information.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Seavey

    I've never read anything like this style of book and I felt it was very interesting way instead of an autobiography. Even thought I wasn't alive during Reagons presidency it was cool to see his before acting career. President Reagon is one of my favorite presidents because I liked what some things he did in office, but something I learned was about his wife and his earlier years. I would recommend for a quick read and wanting to keep reading book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erok

    the art was well done in this. in non-fiction graphic novels, there's always the balance between too much info and not enough. i think this falls a bit too far on the side of not enough info. i almost put the book down at first because i was feeling pukey by how glowing they were of him and his life at first. but then it went into a bit more of the character development where it got much more interesting, and critical. i got the feeling that they didn't want to be overtly critical, because the the art was well done in this. in non-fiction graphic novels, there's always the balance between too much info and not enough. i think this falls a bit too far on the side of not enough info. i almost put the book down at first because i was feeling pukey by how glowing they were of him and his life at first. but then it went into a bit more of the character development where it got much more interesting, and critical. i got the feeling that they didn't want to be overtly critical, because the authors presented the information in a very careful, matter of fact way, while trying to not come to their own interpretations. Things learned: just how much reagan helped invent how politicians can use the media to their advantage. also, the iran/contra conundrum was presented in a very succinct easy to understand way

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    An amusing and fun way to digest some helpful information about a strange president.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography is a biographical graphic novel written by Andrew Helfer and illustrated by the team of Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton. Part primer, part polemic, this graphic biography scratches the surface of what its creators depict as a comic-book presidency. Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the fortieth President of the United States from 19811989 and became a highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Prior to his presidency, he was a Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography is a biographical graphic novel written by Andrew Helfer and illustrated by the team of Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton. Part primer, part polemic, this graphic biography scratches the surface of what its creators depict as a comic-book presidency. Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the fortieth President of the United States from 1981–1989 and became a highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the thirty-third Governor of California from 1967–1975. This graphic novel 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. Reagan was a controversial president. Revered by some, reviled by others, he was acknowledged to be an orator of the highest order. Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography is written and constructed somewhat well. Helfer is strongest when he lets Reagan speak for himself. Buccellato and Staton provide interesting graphics. Overall, the cartoony art fits Reagan's persona, but undercuts Helfer's discussion of Reagan-era scandals. Helfer also crowds more powerful images with wordy caption boxes. All in all, Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography is a mediocre and serviceable, albeit cursory look at the fortieth President of the United States – Ronald Reagan.

  8. 5 out of 5

    StrictlySequential

    Fairly presented- a non partisan biography is a triumph in itself! Of course Reagan was full of $#!+ but they didn't dwell on it or accentuate his triumphs, they presented his life without their own rhetoric which always burdens and skews a narrative. They most frequently focused on the image he portrayed of himself; an excellent choice for the person who spent more years DIRECTLY in the public eye than anybody I can think of. After all, his was the first generation who could get their face in Fairly presented- a non partisan biography is a triumph in itself! Of course Reagan was full of $#!+ but they didn't dwell on it or accentuate his triumphs, they presented his life without their own rhetoric which always burdens and skews a narrative. They most frequently focused on the image he portrayed of himself; an excellent choice for the person who spent more years DIRECTLY in the public eye than anybody I can think of. After all, his was the first generation who could get their face in front of cameras (film->TV) once they became adult and he was on the largest stage (national->world) for 50 years! Hill and Wang's "Serious Comics" imprint published four biographies which I acquired at once due to the quality of what I had read from them previously and I have cherished the three I've read so far. They published them in this order: Malcolm X=2006 (Helfer+DuBurke) Ronald Reagan=2007 (Helfer+Buccelatto+Staton) Jed Hoover=2008 (100% RICK GEARY!) Leon Trotsky=2009 (100% RICK GEARY!) but it didn't make sense to read them going backwards in history so I took the (exact opposite) chronological approach and have been EAGER to open the story of the most exciting (and most tragic) figure in the group!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Dull. Almost holy reverence for Reagan at first but then endlessly dull. In fact the most often comment about Regan is how dull he is.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kelland

    Not a bad bio of Reagan. It was a little unsettling, though, seeing him as a TV star who was groomed for political success, a man who denied science, a man who was free and easy with facts, and a man who basically staffed the White House with his own people, and a man who was prone to impulsive decisions based on insufficient information. Far too prescient.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark Desrosiers

    OK, we all know that, for a dangerously blinkered world leader, Reagan was also fascinating and mysterious, definitely a great topic for biography. But which doorstop are you willing to read? Take your pick: Edmund Morris, Lou Cannon, Frances Fitzgerald... even the Great Communicator himself miraculously wrote a humongous memoir just as his brain was sailing over the horizon. Here's your best place to start: a quick, insightful read, with, y'know, pictures. Though Helfer seems more sympathetic to OK, we all know that, for a dangerously blinkered world leader, Reagan was also fascinating and mysterious, definitely a great topic for biography. But which doorstop are you willing to read? Take your pick: Edmund Morris, Lou Cannon, Frances Fitzgerald... even the Great Communicator himself miraculously wrote a humongous memoir just as his brain was sailing over the horizon. Here's your best place to start: a quick, insightful read, with, y'know, pictures. Though Helfer seems more sympathetic to this strange man than most lefties, this is not a hagiography by any means. And you'll learn a lot: I never knew much about Reagan's central role (when president of the Screen Actors Guild) in scoring such a sweet deal for Lew Wasserman and MCA, thereby creating the Hollywood "superagent". Newbies will also be excited by the calm, clear (and sometimes hilarious) explanation of the Iran-Contra scandal. On the whole, you get the impression that Reagan's central gift was acting (or "communicating"), and he performed brilliantly for three decades after his moribund Hollywood career tanked circa 1962. My only problem with this bio is that Buccellato and Staton seem incapable of rendering historical figures in such a way that they look recognizable: Eisenhower looks like Captain Picard; Nixon looks like Bill Bradley, etc. etc. Somewhat distracting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    I picked this up because I saw a review of it; I can't recall where. I'll say that this is an interesting way to read about the life of Ronald Reagan. The art itself is pretty good. The story moves along, starting with his passing, which is conveyed in a very moving way, then moves on with his life from his humble beginnings to the end of his presidency. What the book conveys is the mixed legacy of his political life and presidency. At the same time, Reagan lived through some very interesting I picked this up because I saw a review of it; I can't recall where. I'll say that this is an interesting way to read about the life of Ronald Reagan. The art itself is pretty good. The story moves along, starting with his passing, which is conveyed in a very moving way, then moves on with his life from his humble beginnings to the end of his presidency. What the book conveys is the mixed legacy of his political life and presidency. At the same time, Reagan lived through some very interesting times in American history. Personally, I did not know as much about his early life, which I found very interesting. If nothing else, this little book has made me want to read more about him in other works. At the end of the book, they do provide a small reading list of the works that the graphic novel comes from. While not perfect, a good entry point for anyone wanting a look at Reagan.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    This graphic biography is quite clever. The first few pages document the "Reagan" legacy in the glowing terms of his admirers. Once the book begins detailing Reagan's life, however, we see a side of Reagan that's not so admirable, including his penchant for revising his own personal history and the fact the he and Jane Wyman were snitches for the FBI, turning in names of so-called Communist sympathizers. There is a nice balance in this biography that reminds us that the idolized Reagan had his This graphic biography is quite clever. The first few pages document the "Reagan" legacy in the glowing terms of his admirers. Once the book begins detailing Reagan's life, however, we see a side of Reagan that's not so admirable, including his penchant for revising his own personal history and the fact the he and Jane Wyman were snitches for the FBI, turning in names of so-called Communist sympathizers. There is a nice balance in this biography that reminds us that the idolized Reagan had his flaws and wasn't quite the superhero President that many think he was. Being ingenuous does not excuse you from accountability, Contra Man.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    The graphic novel I read was Ronald Reagan by Andrew Helfer. It was a biography that followed the life of Ronald Reagan during his presidency. It describes what he did while he was in office and how those things turned out to work or not work. One of my favorite panels is on page 6 and 7, where its describing his life and what he did before he got into office. I think anyone who likes learning about american history and government would really like this graphic novel. It goes into detail about The graphic novel I read was Ronald Reagan by Andrew Helfer. It was a biography that followed the life of Ronald Reagan during his presidency. It describes what he did while he was in office and how those things turned out to work or not work. One of my favorite panels is on page 6 and 7, where it’s describing his life and what he did before he got into office. I think anyone who likes learning about american history and government would really like this graphic novel. It goes into detail about his life and has a lot of interesting facts.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sheri S.

    This book provided a good overview of the Reagan administration including major events leading up to Reagan's election as president. I had not realized how many times Reagan made a bid for the presidency. (He reminds me a bit of Lincoln in that he continued to run for office despite lost campaigns.) The book gave a good, basic summary of the Iran-Contra Affair and how that impacted President Reagan and the American public.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    Non-fiction graphic novels are a departure from the escapist illustrated stories I'm used to. It wasn't what I expected. It is odd to read "facts" and not a story of someone's glory. The first few pages talk about his funeral and the legacy of Reagan, but the next one hundred turn it on its head and talk about how he screwed up/put on a "show" as an actor/politician. I'm learning that I prefer to read in words and not see it depicted in images and text.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    That the authors had a problem with the fact that Reagan took naps reveals their agenda, however, this is still a book worth reading and the format is a fun one. I think that the "Further Reading" list at the back of the book should include the book I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elle Kay

    This was certainly an eye opener to learn about the life of Ronald Reagan but perhaps because I felt amazement at how far he got after so many blunders, I only thought it was an average read. A fascinating one to be sure and incredibly informative, I never knew he narrowly missed being impeached over lying about selling arms to Iran, but overall, not a favourite read for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    April

    This was a very well done book. It didn't feel like you we're reading a propaganda piece from either the left or right. It covered high and low points in Reagan's career and events that had on him. I enjoyed getting this taste of his evolution and it has wetted my appetite to learn more about some of his colleagues and some of the actions of his administration.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emilia P

    Man. This dude had a lot to do with the way modern media politics are conducted on both sides of the aisle. He is kind of awful, and I hope as time goes on some of the shine comes off of his legend. But. It's fascinating. And now I know what a huge mess that Iran-Contra scandal was. Graphic Biographies! Give me more!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This graphic biography does a nice job of covering both the real Reagan and the image he has become. Reading it would certainly be worth the time of someone trying to get a brief encapsulation of who he was and the mythology that surrounds him now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Biased? Yeah. But very interesting. I don't pay attention to politics and know hardly any history so I learned a lot. I read that this is high school reading level. Probably true, but not sure even high schoolers could grasp it all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Thank goodness this is a condensed read. Reagan was a frighteningly stupid man and I just don't know if I could have handled learning anything more about how he screwed the US royally. This was a welcome, unconvential lesson in history.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I wanted to know more about this man I have so little respect for, perhaps he had done SOMETHING that warranted his fan adoration. Well, I didn't think it was possible, but I have even less respect for him now. Regardless, graphic novels make history FUN!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Didn't like the lack of chapters as other books in the series are broken up into. As far as content, this is a fair treatment of a divisive figure. Liberals and conservatives will both find things to complain about in the way this story is told.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bybee

    Meticulously researched, but author Andrew Helfer gets bogged down with minute and wordy explanations of Reagan's political career. On the other hand, the cynically humorous artwork by Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton is superb. Definitely a mixed bag.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Johnson

    This book was very confusing, it has very good word choice but there were too many subjects to understand the meaning of this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sidra

    Ronald Reagan was hilarious!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Samra

    interesting however seemed a bit biased. good details

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jose

    pretty good little biography...short, sweet, maybe biased against reagan, but who cares? I think i'd like to read more on reagan.

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