Ronald Reagan A Graphic Biography

Written by Andrew Helfer; Art by Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton

Hill and Wang




112 Pages



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A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Teens

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." In many ways, Ronald Reagan's presidency seems tailor-made for comic-book art. 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 original, factual, and unforgettable history of America’s fortieth president.


Praise for Ronald Reagan

"After nearly eight years of neo-conservatism, the Reagan years seem a distant age of clarity, confidence, and certainty. The contenders are right to hanker after a little of Reagan's magic dust. There is genuine and continuing demand for information about how the Gipper changed the political landscape at home and began to redraw the maps laid down by the victors at the end of World War II. That desire is behind an unlikely and novel means of discovering the facts of Reagan's life: Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography. To portray the story of Reagan's road to and life in the White House as a comic strip may seem a trivial means of imparting a grand political message, but the effort turns out to be both ingenious and fair minded, showing with admirable impartiality how a poor boy from Tampico, Illinois, became president via commentating on football matches, acting in Hollywood pictures, as a celebrity spokesman for General Electric, and becoming governor of California. Comic strips have come a long way since DC Comics gave birth to Superman and the other pulp fiction superheroes. From the moment Roy Lichtenstein elevated the form to the highest art, comic books in the guise of 'graphic novels' have attempted to be taken seriously both as art and as literature, with mixed results. The Reagan biography lifts the ambition of the form to a new plane . . . The book is eloquent. To illustrate Reagan's reach to a wide variety of differing audiences, three similar frames are run one on top of the other, with Reagan making identical points to a group of blue collar urban workers, to a party of black-tied rich Americans, and to a gathering of mid-Western cowpokes. What the book achieves above all, however, is to clearly demonstrate that, whatever they may hope for, no single Republican candidate comes anywhere near aping Reagan's natural political genius."—Nicholas Wapshott, The New York Sun

"Looking for insights into the phenomena of the Reagan presidency, its resilience in the face of imbroglio after another disaster? Turn not to Edmund White's authorized whimsy, but rather to Andrew Helfer's graphic biography, which wraps astute political reporting in brightly entertaining artwork from Buccellato . . . Helfer paints his own keen portrait of the Great Communicator with a tight narrative that speaks of Reagan's political savvy . . . Helfer tells a smooth story washed with facts."—Kirkus Reviews, Graphic Spotlight
"Part primer, part polemic, this graphic biography scratches the surface of what its creators depict as a comic-book presidency.  Though the life of Ronald Reagan has previously inspired a number of longer biographies, even some of those have suggested that the challenge of coming to terms with the "Great Communicator" is that there wasn't much intellectual depth beneath the actor's engaging facade. Written by Helfer (Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography, 2006, etc.), a former group editor at DC Comics, this hit-and-run graphic narrative reinforces that position . . . In Hollywood, [Reagan] made more of an impression as a union activist and corporate pitchman than through most of the roles he secured as an actor, while failing at a first marriage that seemed more like a career convenience. It was in politics he found his greatest success, the role of a lifetime, as long as he kept things simple and stuck to the script. (When he went off-message, he was likely to make claims that had no basis in fact.) The narrative touches all the high points: his transformation into conservative crusader and election to the governorship of California, the adoring Nancy, the striking contrast he presented to the ineffectual Jimmy Carter, a presidency marked by an assassination attempt and the Iran-Contra, arms-for-hostages scandal (one of the controversies that the Teflon president deflected with a convenient lapse of memory), the long fade into the Alzheimer's sunset.  Gives credit where due."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Andrew Helfer has written everything from Batman to Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. Steve Buccellato is an award-winning cartoonist and Joe Staton has drawn for everyone from Charton Comics to DC Comics.
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  • Book Trailer for Ronald Reagan by Andrew Helfer

    A book trailer for author Andrew Helfer's graphic biography of Ronald Reagan. Art by Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton.



  • Written by Andrew Helfer; Art by Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton

  • Andrew Helfer has written everything from Batman to Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. Steve Buccellato is an award-winning cartoonist and Joe Staton has drawn for everyone from Charton Comics to DC Comics.