Conservative Author Launches Biting Graphic Novel on New Deal

While liberals dominate many alternative mediums, one conservative is trying to break into the graphic novel market.

Amity Shlaes, a bestselling author and columnist, turned to graphic novels to continue her criticism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s  New Deal policies. Claiming that liberals have dominated the medium, Shlaes released “The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition” on May 27, 2014. It is Shlaes seeks to highlight the trials of common workers left behind by the New Deal, shining an unusually critical light on the Roosevelt administration.

Shlaes wrote in the National Review that graphic novels are growing in popularity but are often “reinforcement weapons for progressive, or even outright Marxist, messages.” She wanted to counter the trend with a historical attack on the New Deal or “the paradigm for government intervention to this day.”

According to Shlaes, since Hayek’s Road to Serfdom was released as a graphic novel, few conservatives have followed this trend. She suggested this might be because “the graphic style is perceived as dumbing down,” violating the general conservative preference to read traditional books or just that cartoonists tend to be liberal.

In 2008, Shlaes released “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.” In that book, she examined the Great Depression and the central planning Roosevelt orchestrated to fix the economy. Shlaes said the book showed how the “New Deal created a new forgotten man, the man who subsidizes the funding of other constituencies.” Her new graphic version communicates the same message to a different audience.

But graphic novels can be very sophisticated. Shlaes mentioned Maus: A Survivor’s Tale which is a critically acclaimed Holocaust narrative that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

The left wasn’t thrilled by Shlaes foray into graphic novels. Jeff Shesol, of The New Yorker, devoted his June 13 blog to attacking her views and the book. Shesol dismissed Shlaes’ effort as “pretty good propaganda, but lousy literature.” He did acknowledge that “there is nothing inherently liberal about the medium,” bolstering Shlaes’ case that conservatives could compete with liberals in the graphic novel market.

Sean Long
Sean Long is a former writer for MRC Business.