Paul Buhle is an eminent historian who, from time to time, graces this site with his writings on comics and related issues. Today it is my honor to direct your attention to a wonderful tribute to Paul Buhle in The Progressive. Here you will find a very useful overview of what Mr. Buhle has accomplished in his lifelong exploration and analysis of progressive politics–and how he’s incorporated his work into the comics medium. Paul Buhle’s contributions are essential!
Graphic novels about historical figures and subjects are now, more than ever, a familiar resource for many readers. At its core, comics is built to explain and to clarify: to not only tell stories but to distill information. Comics has a limitless ability to express anything from the most obscure and enigmatic to the most crisp and concise. It is such a broad spectrum that you find various camps, whole worlds upon themselves not fully aware of each other, at different points. That said, comics at its best is breathtaking. All it requires is skilled and determined hands to take the helm. That is precisely what Paul Buhle has done many times over bringing his scholarly talents to bear.
One title that Paul co-edited that got on my radar was the comics anthology, Bohemians: A Graphic History. Read my review here. I subsequently interviewed Paul. That led to my discovering a treasure trove of books that Paul has been involved with in one form or another, including the role as one of the editors to Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson, published by Rutgers University Press. My review here.
Another title that Paul was an editor for that I covered was Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia: A Graphic Biography. You can read my review here and my interview with the author, artist-writer Nick Thorkelson, here. With each new book that Paul was involved with that I read and reviewed, I had a new opportunity to evangelize about the unique characteristics of comics to tell stories and convey information in highly compelling and memorable ways. And we are just getting started. There are so many other titles we could get into going back to Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and The New Land, published by Abrams, to Paul’s more recent collaboration as part of the script team (illustrated by cartoonist Noah Van Sciver) for Eugene V. Debs: A Graphic History, published by Verso Books.
Paul Von Blum‘s tribute to Paul Buhle in The Progressive is, in itself an invaluable resource! A special thank you to him for bringing to my attention yet another book, Len, A Lawyer in History: A Graphic Biography of Radical Attorney Leonard Weinglass, published by AK Press. Paul Von Blum’s article ends with a mention to an upcoming graphic history, ¡Brigadistas! An American Anti-Fascist in the Spanish Civil War. This is a collaboration between Paul Buhle and artist Anne Timmons. It is published by Monthly Review Press, an imprint of NYU Press, and due out in May of 2022. We all look forward to it and a continuation to the remarkable contributions that Paul Buhle has made.