Sanitized Graphic Novel to be Published About 'Bill the Bomber' Ayers

Have you heard about a graphic novel called "Joey the Seminarian?" It is about young Joseph Djugashvili and his adventures in a Tiflis seminary. Joey is quite an excellent student who writes poetry and is an excellent singer who performs in the choir and at weddings. Of course, this graphic novel conveniently leaves out the fact that young Joey Djugashvili grew up to become Joe Stalin the dictator who caused millions to lose their lives in brutal slave labor camps and via starvation as well as through mass liquidations. Yes, I'm just kidding about that graphic novel but it turns out that an equally whitewashed graphic novel is soon to be published about "Bill the Bomber" Ayers. Forget about his acts of cowardly terrorism via bombing. As reported by Calvin Reid in Publishers Weekly  the graphic novel will be based on Ayer's whitewashed memoir  To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher (emphasis mine):

Teachers College Press, a scholarly, professional and trade publisher focused on the theory and practice of teacher education, has reached agreement on a two-book deal with William Ayers, the University of Illinois at Chicago professor, lauded educational theorist and former leader of the radical 1960s Weather Underground. And, yes, Ayers is indeed the same figure dragooned into the 2008 presidential race in a controversial attempt to use his background in radical politics and a minor acquaintance with Barack Obama to undermine Obama’s presidential run.

Poor widdle Bill. "Dragooned" into the presidential race despite being a "minor acquaintance" with Barack Obama even though the latter's political career was launched in Ayer's living room. Publishers Weekly continues with their whitewashed report about Ayer's sanitized graphic novel:

In spring 2010, TCP will publish a graphic novel adaptation of To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, a much-praised memoir of Ayers’s life as a teacher, tentatively to be called To Teach: The Graphic Memoir with art by Xeric Award-winner Ryan Alexander-Tanner. More than a simple memoir, To Teach is also a peer-reviewed work of scholarship on Ayers’s teaching precepts as well as a vivid recollection of his adventures in the classroom. At the same time, TCP will publish a new and revised third edition of the original prose To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher.  One of TCP’s all-time bestselling titles, To Teach was originally published in 1993 and has sold more than 75,000 copies over three printings, the last one released in 2001.

“For an academic/scholarly press, that’s a major bestseller,” noted TCP acquisitions editor Meg Lemke, who “co-acquired” the book with TCP director Carol Saltz, who will edit the new prose edition. Lemke will oversee the production of the graphic edition. Despite the media hoopla over his radical past, Ayers is a serious and much respected Chicago-based educational activist and theorist who has been with TCP for years and published at least five books at the house. Ayers is also the series editor of TCP's Teaching Social Justice series of titles. (Fugitive Days, Ayers's memoir of his past as a radical political activist, is published by Beacon Press.) The idea to produce a graphic novel version of Ayers’s book came after TCP contacted him about an updated edition of To Teach, which was revised in 2001. “It was a collaborative idea among Carol, myself and Bill,” Lemke said.

The artist for the project, Alexander-Tanner, has won a Xeric Award (a grant presented in support of self-published comics). A former student of Ayers’s brother Rick, Alexander-Tanner had done interviews with William Ayers for a series of cartoons about him and was an easy pick to illustrate the project.  Alexander-Tanner, who lives in Portland, Ore., even moved to Chicago to live in Ayers’s house for five months to fully collaborate on the adaptation.

Lemke called the graphic novel adaptation “well-written and drawn, serious but still funny and inspiring,” and compared it to such graphic nonfiction works as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. She said To Teach is “a popular course adoption text and we think the graphic adaptation will pair with this for courses at the high school as well as college level, and become an even more widely loved 'gift book' for aspiring progressive teachers and anyone working with youth.”

Your humble correspondent, during the course of his checkered career, once wrote comix stories. Gee, I wonder if Teachers College Press would be interested in publishing my own graphic novel idea called "Bill the Bomber?" It would be the biography of a young spoiled rich kid brought up in privileged circumstances. He grows up to become a domestic terrorist. The highlight of his life is when a bomb he plans to be planted at an NCO dance at Fort Dix accidentally blows up killing his girlfriend and two others. The novel would end with Bill the Bomber wailing that he "didn't do enough."

"Bill the Bomber" comix. Somehow I have the feeling that Teachers College Press would be completely uninterested in publishing a true unsanitized graphic novel about Bill Ayers.

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.