08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail: beautifully designed, superbly written history of the 2008 election in graphic novel form

08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail is a graphic novel from Dan Goldman (creator of the fabulous graphic novel about embedded bloggers in Iraq, Shooting War) and New Republic writer Michael Crowley, an astute political reporter.

08 is a time-capsule of the events leading up to the 2008 election, starting with the stinging GOP defeat in the 2006 mid-terms and continuing up to election day, and as with many such recent histories, there's a certain vividness that comes of reading the recent past recast in historic terms, a combination of distance and closeness that comes from feeling like you witnessed events that are now part of history.

But more than that, 08 is a beautiful book, its page layouts stark and emotional at the same time. The art and layouts serve as a major illumination on the text (I was reminded of the graphic novel adaptation of the 9-11 Commission Report). Some are so good I wanted to clip them and have them framed.

08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail

20 page excerpt (35MB PDF


  1. Looks good, but that’s not a very good likeness of Palin. If she was that hideous looking we would have had an even easier time of defeating McCain/Palin.

  2. Not to be pedantic, but that’s actually a likeness of Tina Fey impersonating Palin — not Palin herself. And if you’re going to visually distinguish two people who looked so much alike, making the impersonator a little rougher, and uglier, is a good way to do it.

  3. A neat project, poorly executed. Google for images of the various politicians and pundits involved, and you’ll see that their faces are very obviously photo-traced. That’s why their expressions don’t match the tone of what they’re saying.

    It’s a common enough technique which is acknowledged as lazy by most artists who use it. It’s fine when, for example, a comic-strip artist needs a celebrity cameo. However, for a book that centers around public figures, these guys should’ve picked an artist who can free-draw recognizable faces. I’m’a give this one a pass.

  4. Could anyone get the graphic novel 9-11 report to open? I continuously got a “permission denied” error when I followed the link to slate and tried to read it.

  5. That picture looks more like a police mugshot of member of a KISS tribute band than either Tina Fey or Sarah Palin. And the narrator’s BOLD CAPS in different SIZES seem more suited for a poster than a whole comic book.

  6. The free excerpt is a nice idea, but it’s a looooong download and it’s playing hell with my browser.

    Download complete. Hmmm. It might be a .pdf, but there’s no way to enlarge the text. Makes for very myopic reading.

  7. Ah, Hoefler & Frere-Jones Gotham.

    To my knowledge, the first typeface ever to become definitively associated with a political brand.

  8. I guess I kinda’ liked it? The art was cool. But really, since the campaigning for 2008 started shortly after 2004 and media coverage of the election was somewhere between “thorough” and “24/7 pundit firehose” levels I’m not sure what the point is. The dems had to fight tooth and nail while spending insane amounts of money to beat a circus clown and his poorly trained monkey. Really, the whole thing was embarrassing and disappointing. This might be something interesting to read 10 years from now but at the moment I’m just glad I can pick up a paper (a physical one) and not have to read a second by second account of what happened on the campaign trail.

  9. Those of us who know Dan and his work understand what an immense amount of blood, sweat and tears he pours into all his labors; there is absolutely NOTHING “lazy” about the man or his technique. This was perhaps not the best page to cite to showcase his talents, but he managed to take what in written form would have been a fairly dry account of the campaigns and imbue it with the crackling energy we were all experiencing at the time.

    For any lingering doubts folks might be clinging to about his talents, I recommend you consult an unofficial coda to 08 that was published on Tor.com on the day of Obama’s inauguration, Yes We Will. His art is a living, electric thing best viewed in glorious backlit color; that he was able to bring something of that to B&W deadtree editions is further testimony to that fact.

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