~written by Jonathan Hennessey
~illustrated by Aaron McConnell
I came across The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation completely by accident. I hadn't heard a thing about it and I didn't even know it existed. I was, however, inexplicably excited to find it on the shelf, even if mt friend who was with me looked at me like I was crazy. But, really, it's the Constitution in comic book form, how cool is that? Pretty damn cool, I say.
Written by Jonathan Hennessy, the book covers everything from the Preamble to the Twenty-seventh Amendment in addition to the events leading up to the writing of the famous document and the controversies surrounding its ratification. The book is definitely an adaptation of the Constitution rather than the Constitution with accompanying artwork. As opposed to strictly explaining what the Constitution actually says, Hennessy has chosen to examine how it works in action, both historically and in present day. One way he does this is to refer to significant Supreme Court cases, some as recent as 2008 (which is impressive seeing as the book was published in the same year).
Aaron McConnell's illustrations are an interesting mix of realism and abstraction. How exactly does one represent ideas and concepts in a visual form? McConnell's approach, while the results are eclectic, does work. One of the things I particularly liked was the use of state and national birds as the representation of their respective entities. The different branches of the government are portrayed as human bodies with the corresponding governmental building used in place of a head, which albeit is kinda creepy even if it is effective. The layout and formatting of the pages change dramatically from one to another, but they do remain coherent and readable throughout. While overall the artwork isn't cohesive, McConnell has done a wonderful job with it and has delivered some clever solutions to the problems surrounding the visual representation of abstract concepts.
Overall, I wasn't quite as impressed with the book as I was expecting to be, but it is still an impressive achievement. I do wish that the Constitution itself had been directly quoted more often than it was. A list of recommended readings is included at the end of the book, which is a nice touch. Hopefully, the book will lead to a greater comprehension of the Constitution--Constitutional literacy is important, especially in this day and age when fewer and fewer people seem to really understand how the United States government actually works. The graphic adaptation is definitely not going to replace the advantages of reading the real thing, but it does serve as a fantastic and very accessible introduction to that great document.