Constitution Illustrated | Review
by R. Sikoryak
Drawn & Quarterly, $14.95
For ages 13-17 years
The original, unabridged text of the founding document of the United States is presented in comic form, with each clause or section of the Constitution illustrated in a single-page panel. Sikoryak uses the original spelling and punctuation, so, for example, “choose” is “chuse”, reminding us that this is a historical document. End notes tell the reader which clauses have later been superseded. There’s also a list of when the amendments were proposed and ratified.
This book is educational in more ways than one. Beyond the legal chronicle, each page is drawn to resemble a different comic strip or character. Sikoryak is an amazing mimic of art styles, so everyone from the Peanuts gang to the cast of G.I.Joe appears herein. An index lists his influences, crediting the original artists, listing the characters, and stating roughly when they originally appeared. This is a pocket-sized history of popular comics.
Sikoryak did an amazing job choosing the comics to emulate. Diverse characters drawn in the style of Raina Telgemeier stand in for “we the people”. Dennis the Menace appears on the page about age limits, Uncle Scrooge for taxes, Sgt. Rock for raising an army, and Beetle Bailey for the militia. Calvin and Hobbes view a field of arguing snowmen while, of course, Wonder Woman explains women’s suffrage.
Those intrigued by certain pages may want to find out more about Alex Raymond or Hilda Terry or Lynda Barry, so this might spur additional investigation into comic history. Readers will recognize characters from Foxtrot, Hellboy, the Wimpy Kid, and the Muppet Babies. Krazy Kat is followed by Rick and Morty, Captain Marvel by Love and Rockets, Bone by Little Nemo, Mary Worth by WildC.A.T.s, Garfield by Barnaby.
Works referenced date from the early 1900s to just a few years ago and range from the most classic comic strips to the work of Alison Bechdel, Adventure Time to Super Friends, Little Orphan Annie to Cathy, Betty Boop to Phoebe and Her Unicorn. What other book would have Archie and Bullwinkle and The Far Side and underground artists and Steve Ditko and Noelle Stevenson? Every page was a new discovery, and the wonder and imagination made the material all the more memorable.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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