Comic book for adults tells Reagan’s story
October 3, 2007
Although you won’t find “Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography” gracing the bookshelves next to historical offerings by David Halberstam or Stephen Ambrose, it should not be dismissed as simply a glorified strip on the Great Communicator.This illustrated biography, put out by the same trio (author Andrew Helfer and artists Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton) who examined Malcolm X in a comic-strip format, follows Reagan from his formative years as a young man all the way to the Oval Office.Where the threesome stands on Reagan’s place in history is not always clear. What is clear, however, is that the actor-turned-politician knew when to turn on his charisma at a time when America dearly needed a dynamic leader. Indeed, when the cameras were rolling, as “Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography” duly notes, is when the Gipper was at his best. It’s delivered in comic-strip format, but “Reagan” is anchored with solid reporting that does not skew the facts of a presidency that was defined by the Iran-Contra controversy, the fall of the Soviet empire and an attempted assassination.
It does, however, fail to demonstrate why Reagan was one of the most popular presidents of the 20th century, and why his admiring supporters found him nearly beyond reproach, even when his approval rating plummeted. “Reagan” also is remiss in developing the relationship between Ronald and Nancy, a couple who, for better or worse, captivated the public during the 1980s.”Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography” is an adult comic book at best, a Cliffs Notes for history buffs at worst. When your kids turn 12 or 13, this book is a solid introduction about a president whose legacy remains to be defined by history.