IDW Does America a Favor with Puck Collection

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Puck from IDW

A picture, so the expression goes, is worth a thousand words. That being the case, the political cartoon is worth a thousand words and change, the art form being one that conjoins the satirical image with paucity of pithy text. Which brings us to one of the pioneers of the form: the magazine called Puck, the subject of this lavish (and heavy!) compendium from IDW and The Library of American Comics.

With a foreword from Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, this collection of eye-popping plates from the 19th and 20th century presents a wealth of historical information. Each page is a history lesson, better communicated than a whole chapter from some boring old textbook. Editors Michael Alexander Kahn and Richard Samuel West put each piece into context as to the intent of the original publishers, and organize the plates into categorical chapters (rather than completely chronological order) that makes Puck: What Fools These Mortals Be an art book that is also a reference manual to American politics.

With introductory paragraphs and notes about the publishers, artists, and magazine's history, Puck is an indispensable journal, a history of political punditry that wasn't afraid to take a party's side -- and wasn't afraid to switch sides either, if the mood took them. From the antebellum attitudes toward President Grant (and his attempts at a third term in office) to the turn of the century pinup style covers and Rube Goldberg spreads, Puck delivered artistic masterpieces that had a message. IDW has done America a favor in producing this collection.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0