John William Walker Zeiser reviews Bohemians: A Graphic History Edited by Paul Buhle and David Berger:

The etymological roots of bohemian—bohème in French—come from a mistake by nineteenth-century French journalists who incorrectly reported that the Romani people originated in Czech-Bohemia. It’s now known that they emigrated from the Indian subcontinent some thousand years ago, but since Shakespeare, Romani culture has been romanticized by any number of European writers, from John Clare to George Eliot to Guy de Maupassant. Writers and artists were fascinated with the supposed free-spiritedness, wanderlust, and musicality of the Romani, and all three themes feature prominently in the lives of the men and women in Bohemians: A Graphic History edited by Paul Buhle and David Berger.


We’re giving away 2 posters with illustrations from Bohemians: A Graphic History - and two copies of the book! To enter the competition to win one of the posters and a copy of the book, draw a picture of your favorite bohemian, living or dead, and submit it in the comments below, on Twitter, or on our Facebook wall, and let us know which of the posters you’d prefer.

No drawing skills are too poor and no form too degraded: we encourage entries drawn in MS Paint, on cocktail napkins, with an Etch A Sketch or any other prop of the artistically ungifted. Winners will be chosen by a combination of suitably bohemian and vague criteria like wit, perspicacity, persuasiveness, visual pleasure and novelty. 

Buhle and Berger’s survey includes a wide range of figures, spanning from suffragist and Free Lover Victoria Woodhull to Bernard Wolfe, one-time bodyguard to Trotsky, pornographer, and author of Limbo, the first anti-nuke novel; counterculture giants like Oscar Wilde and Josephine Baker to relative obscurities like anarchist poet Joseph Bovshover; short-lived fads like Trilbymania to long-term movements like modern art. We encourage you think as broadly. 


Robin Hood: People’s Outlaw and Forest Hero, A Graphic Guide

Where and what was Robin Hood? Why is an outlaw from fourteenth century England still a hero today, with films, festivals and songs dedicated to his living memory?

This book explores the mysteries, the historical evidence, and the trajectory that led to centuries of village festivals around Mayday and the green space of nature unconquered by the forces in power. Great revolutionaries including William Morris adopted Robin as hero, children’s books offered many versions, and Robin entered modern popular culture with cheap novels, silent films and comics.

There, in the world of popular culture, Robin Hood continues to holds unique and secure place. The “bad-good” hero of pulp urban fiction of the 1840s-50s, and more important, the Western outlaw who thwarts the bankers in pulps, films, and comics, is essentially Robin Hood. So are Zorro, the Cisco Kid, and countless Robin Hood knockoff characters in various media.

Robin Hood has a special resonance for leftwing influences on American popular culture in Hollywood, film and television. During the 1930s-50s, future blacklist victims devised radical plots of “people’s outlaws,” including anti-fascist guerilla fighters, climaxing in The Adventures of Robin Hood, network television 1955-58, written under cover by victims of the Blacklist, seen by more viewers than any other version of Robin Hood.

Robin Hood: People’s Outlaw and Forest Hero also features 30 pages of collages and comic art, recuperating the artistic interpretations of Robin from seven centuries, and offering new comic art as a comic-within-a book.

With text by Paul Buhle, comics and assorted drawings by Christopher Hutchinson, Gary Dumm, and Sharon Rudahl; Robin Hood: People’s Outlaw and Forest Hero adds another dimension to the history and meaning of rebellion.


“Paul Buhle is the best informed and most sincere left-wing scholar that I know.” —Harvey Pekar, artist

“Paul Buhle is my socialist conscience.” —Robert Crumb, artist

About the Contributors:

Paul Buhle, founder-editor of the new left journal Radical America, is now an ex-academic, editing radical comic art books from Wisconsin. He is the authorized biographer of C.L.R. James, and a scholar of the Hollywood Blacklist, comic art, labor, and the Left.

Gary Dumm, Cleveland native and prolific comic artist, has contributed to many anthologies, is the principal artist of Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History and has been published in the New York Times,Entertainment Weekly, and France’s Le Monde, among other outlets.

Christopher Hutchinson, a young artist and Connecticut native, ran for Congress as a socialist in 2010.

Sharon Rudahl, erstwhile civil rights activist and artist for the antiwar movement, was a leading comix artist of the underground era. Her recent work includes Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldmanand contributions to many anthologies. She lives in Los Angeles.

Coming to our Hoboken store shortly

Q&A with Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics
By Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle
Introduction by Harry Shearer

How and when did you first meet Harvey Kurtzman?

Denis Kitchen: I corresponded with Harvey starting in 1969 after I drew my first underground comic, Mom’s, and founded Kitchen Sink Press. We didn’t meet until June 1971, when I arranged for him to give his first public talk, in Milwaukee, and got him considerable TV and newspaper coverage. As a reward he offered me a quick tour of Hugh Hefner’s Chicago mansion. The “quick tour” turned into a twenty-four-hour adventure, and our bond was secured.

How did you become interested in the work of Harvey Kurtzman?

Paul Buhle: I was a reader of MAD comics at its very end, in 1955, and wrote an English class paper on Kurtzman when I was a high school junior. (The teacher liked the paper but disapproved of comics. I got a “B.”) After I published Radical America Komiks in 1969, I wrote a fan letter. Harvey responded, kindly, sending me an issue of Help! that I had missed.

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman is obviously a labor of love—what was the process of putting this book together like? Did you make any new discoveries about him and his work along the way?

PB: What I discovered was how much more Denis Kitchen knew than I did. And what a wonderful person Adele Kurtzman is. It’s been thrilling to go through the archives and write about a childhood hero whom I had imagined writing to when I was still in high school.

DK: Reviewing Harvey’s life’s work, I was struck repeatedly by how brilliant he was, how far ahead of his time he was and, sadly, how tough it was to make a good living in comics during his lifetime. I was also reminded of various unfinished projects, such as a 1954 graphic novel based on the work of Charles Dickens, that raise intriguing “what might have been” questions. Assembling the book has been a dream come true, but the cutting room floor was painful. I wish I had talked Abrams into a two-volume set!

Harvey Kurtzman was a huge influence on countless artists. Who or what inspired Kurtzman’s own work?

PB: In his own From Aaargh! to Zap! Harvey Kurtzman’s Visual History of the Comics, Kurtzman says that Will Eisner was the greatest of comics artists, so one must assume he was an influence.

DK: Eisner was a big influence, for sure, as were Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond, and George Herriman. Harvey had a “Krazy Kat” Sunday page on his living room wall for many years. He loved a lot of the early European illustrators, too: Heinrich Kley, H.M. Bateman, and Caran d’Ache, among others.

Since Kurtzman’s death the appreciation and respect for comics art has exploded. How do you think Kurtzman’s legacy fits into the overall history of comics?

PB:Kurtzman will remain the master writer/artist/editor/creator of the most important comics satire magazine in the twentieth century—certainly the most important in the English language—and a profound influence in the creation of a comics art realism treating historical and current conflict, wars, and military life, which other artists romanticized or avoided.

DK: Kurtzman loved the underground comix generation that followed him, and he would have been excited to witness the graphic novel explosion and the wide acceptance of the art form. In every field there are recognized giants. In comics, Harvey will remain the gold standard.

About the Authors:
Denis Kitchen is a pioneering underground cartoonist, writer, editor, and publisher (Kitchen Sink Press). His partnership, Kitchen, Lind & Assoc., represents the Harvey Kurtzman estate, providing unprecedented access for this book. In 1986 Kitchen established the nonprofit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and served as president for its first eighteen years. He lives in western Massachusetts.
Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer in the American Civilization and History departments at Brown University, and a distinguished scholar of the Organization of American History and the American Studies Association. He has written and edited thirty-five books, including a half-dozen volumes about comics art that explore various facets of American history and popular culture. This is his sixth biographical volume. Paul Buhle lives in Rhode Island.

Harvey Kurtzman (October 3, 1924–February 21, 1993) was a writer, artist, and editor with enormous influence on several generations of cartoonists and readers. He was the creator of “Hey Look!” for Stan Lee at Timely (Marvel) Comics, Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat for E.C. Comics, and the comic genius who created MAD in 1952, first as a full-color comic book, then as a black-and-white magazine. He later created Trump for Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, Humbug, and Help! magazines. Kurtzman was also the writer/artist of Jungle Book, “Goodman Beaver,” and “Little Annie Fanny,” which appeared inPlayboy from 1962 through 1988. In 1988 the Harvey Awards were founded, named in honor of Kurtzman to recognize the achievements of comic-book industry professionals. They are currently held each year at the Baltimore Comic-Con in September.

Order ‘Comics in Wisconsin’ by Paul Buhle, available from by clicking on the book cover above!