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The Written Image: The Beats

Trying to capitalize on the popularity of graphic novels, Hill and Wang, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, has begun publishing graphic nonfiction titles.The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell was released last year, and The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz was published in January. The panel above—an illustration of Jack Kerouac writing On the Road—is taken from The Beats: A Graphic History, edited by Paul Buhle

and published this month. Written by Harvey Pekar and four other authors, with art by eleven cartoonists and illustrators, The Beats covers all the major writers of the generation—Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Olson, Diane DiPrima, and many more. "No one claims this treatment to be definitive," Buhle and Pekar write in their introduction to the book. "But it is new and it is vital." And, perhaps more important, it's fun.

Credit: Excerpted from The Beats: A Graphic History, edited by Paul Buhle, published in March by Hill and Wang, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

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The Written Image: The Beats (March/April 2009)
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