Timely and informative. Where was so clear an explication during the health-care brouhaha on Capitol Hill?

READ REVIEW

HEALTH CARE REFORM

WHAT IT IS, WHY IT'S NECESSARY, HOW IT WORKS

A cartoon-driven examination of what’s wrong with the American way of health care—and why the legislative reform of 2010 was necessary.

“Every one of us knows that America’s health care system is a mess,” writes Gruber (Economics/MIT), who helped draw up the Massachusetts reforms for which Mitt Romney is now taking such a beating from the right. And for good reason: The hard right characterizes any kind of government management of health care as socialism, while others across the political spectrum believe that the unchecked profit motive assures that health care will remain expensive and differentially accessible. Gruber turns up some astonishing figures for which Schreiber’s accompanying illustrations carry an appropriate sense of alarm. For instance, in 1960 health care cost less than 3 percent of the federal budget, while the “largest single expenditure now is on health care,” likely to incur a deficit of $100 trillion—that’s trillion with a tee—in the near future. The author glosses over one obvious reason, namely the aging of the baby boom generation, while examining the big business that health care has become. By way of a pointed example, he considers what would happen to four very different people given the same medical emergency, namely a heart attack: Someone with decent benefits would be covered, while someone working on the fringe of the economy, as so many are these days, would pay most expenses out of pocket—and if he or she could actually get private coverage, it would be costly and incomplete. The Massachusetts plan, Gruber maintains, offers one cure, though the insurance industry has done all that it could to void the spirit if not the letter of the law. The omnibus health-care reform act that narrowly squeaked through Congress is a necessary start, but with more to do.

Timely and informative. Where was so clear an explication during the health-care brouhaha on Capitol Hill?

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8090-9462-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sugarcoated but undiluted vehicle for schooling American readers about their rights and responsibilities.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION

A searching interpretation of that sonorous document the Constitution, with cartoons.

Why have a Constitution to begin with? Because, remarks film and TV writer Hennessey—who, even if his prose is bound by balloons, turns out to be quite the Constitutional scholar—the founding fathers were keenly aware that civil rights were never formally written down in Britain, “and that deeply troubled the framers.” That’s as much of an establishing conflict as is needed for a superhero piece, and Hennessey, paired with artist McConnell, does a fine job of turning the making of the document, despite all the dull stretches in the Constitutional Convention that James Madison recorded in his diary, into a drama. Happily, Hennessey is aware of the truly radical origins of the Constitution, even as he notes its conservative strains. For example, he remarks that the system of checks and balances is a remarkable innovation, even if it sometimes seems that presidential actions—as with military intervention in Vietnam and elsewhere—go unchecked. In addition, laws are difficult to make in this country for very good reason: “Otherwise we might get too many of them.” Combining words and appropriate images, sometimes comic and sometimes earnest, the narrative visits such matters as the three-fifths law of determining apportionment, the writ of habeas corpus, eminent domain and conceptions of property and freedom of assembly and movement (for instance, the Articles of Federation forbade “vagabonds and paupers” from crossing state lines). Also covered are the many guarantees Americans take for granted—not least the Ninth Amendment, which states that certain rights not enumerated (“The right to scratch a dog behind the ears?”) shall not be denied.

A sugarcoated but undiluted vehicle for schooling American readers about their rights and responsibilities.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8090-9487-5

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Playfully drawn and provocatively written, the memoir reinforces Bell's standing among the first rank of the genre’s artists.

THE VOYEURS

“Graphic memoir” only hints at the artistry of a complex, literary-minded author who resists the bare-all confessionalism so common to the genre and blurs the distinction between fiction and factual introspection.

Who are “The Voyeurs?” In the short, opening title piece, they are a mixed-gender group standing on an urban rooftop, watching a couple have sex through a window in a nearby building. They tend to find the experience “uncomfortable,” even “creepy,” though those who remain raptly silent may well be more interested, even titillated. Bell (Lucky, 2006, etc.) is also a voyeur of sorts, chronicling the lives of others in significant detail while contemplating her own. As she admits before addressing an arts class in frigid Minneapolis, where she knows the major interest will be on how she has been able to turn her comics into a career, “I feel I need to disclaim this ‘story.’ I set myself the task of reporting my trip, though there’s not much to it, and I can’t back out now. It’s my compulsion to do this, it’s my way, I suppose, of fighting against the meaninglessness constantly crowding in.” The memoir encompasses travels that take her from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and from Japan to France, while addressing the challenges of long-distance relationships, panic attacks, contemporary feminism, Internet obsessiveness, the temptation to manipulate life to provide material for her work, and the ultimate realization, in the concluding “How I Make My Comics,” of her creative process: “Then I want to blame everyone I’ve known ever for all the failures and frustrations of my life, and I want to call someone up and beg them to please help me out of this misery somehow, and when I realize how futile both these things are I feel the cold, sharp sting of the reality that I’m totally and utterly alone in the world. Then I slap on a punchline and bam, I’m done.”

Playfully drawn and provocatively written, the memoir reinforces Bell's standing among the first rank of the genre’s artists.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9846814-0-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Uncivilized Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more