Books: Comics Legend Harvey Pekar Channels Studs Terkel

Can a graphic adaptation of the master reporter’s Working interviews work?

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THIS COMIC BOOK isn’t the most far-fetched attempt to repackage Working, the late Studs Terkel‘s signature work of oral history—that would be the 1978 Broadway musical of the same name. Harvey Pekar proves to be the perfect person to turn Terkel’s 35-year-old homage to the workaday world into something worth rereading. Pekar, after all, immortalized his life and times as a file clerk for the Department of Veterans Affairs in his indie comic series American Splendor (itself the inspiration for a movie and, recently, an opera). Collaborating with 16 artists, Pekar has edited a selection of Terkel’s first-person tales of drudgery and dignity, as told by baby nurses and grave diggers, prostitutes and stockbrokers. The quality of the art varies greatly, but the original words rise above the rough spots (even when presented in that goofily unproletarian typeface, Comic Sans). Some of the material is amusingly dated—barbers and hairstylists griping about dirty longhairs; an airline ticket operator weirded out by spending her day in front of “an electronic typewriter” that “can retrieve information—forever.” But the storytellers’ sense of unease that the bottom could drop out of the American Dream at any moment is all too familiar. Working remains an engrossing portrait of ordinary Americans and the perpetual tension between our desire to find meaning in our work and our need to be more than just our jobs.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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