08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail

08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail follows the Presidential campaign from 2006 to Election Night 2008. Michael Crowley wrote and Dan Goldman … well, draws isn’t the right word, because I couldn’t begin to guess how he put this together. It’s all digital, with plenty of photo manipulation, and a strong, gripping graphic design. The text is a combination of bold statements, presented almost like headlines, and dialogue taken from real sound bites, with two reporter characters to make sarcastic wisecracks and judgments. (I wish we’d seen a lot more of them, actually; they don’t appear very much, and the added context would have been welcome.)

08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail cover
08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail
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It’s a scrapbook of the most meaningful Presidential campaign in modern history. I thought I remembered the important points, but I didn’t have the context then for the perspective time brings now. We’re reintroduced to key players and various party candidates with quick overviews. There’s not a lot of room for detail, with so much to cover, but perceptions and connections are summarized. That’s appropriate, given that political campaigning these days is about the sound bite and the shortcut. It doesn’t matter whether what you say is true — and I’ve read reliable analysis pieces on some of the candidates that disagree with the facts as presented here — what matters is how many people you can get to listen to you.

The book really has two storylines: On the Democratic side, it’s about what Hillary Clinton did wrong and how Obama became the leading candidate, although there are cameos from other key players (often to take shots at them). On the Republican side, it’s the story of John McCain’s tenacity and how he kept repositioning himself. Goldman’s caricatures of the politicians are recognizable, always a plus, although he has a tendency to use many lines on faces, giving people a pained, aged look. Maybe that’s accurate, too, especially as the campaign wears on.

Reading it now, it may be a little too recent, but once some time passes, it’ll make a great memento. Get an excerpt at the artist’s website. Goldman previously illustrated Shooting War. He has been interviewed online. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

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