Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator

Sofia Warren. Top Shelf, $24.99 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-603-09512-9

New Yorker cartoonist Warren is the first to admit she’s been too busy and occasionally felt too guilty (as a gentrifier in Bushwick, Brooklyn) to pay attention to local politics, but that’s what makes her a good layperson narrator for this edifying account of New York State senator Julia Salazar’s first year in office. Warren embeds herself with Salazar’s grassroots campaign and post-election follows the socialist freshman senator as she attempts to reform rental laws in a system mired by real estate interests. Salazar is a young, Latina community organizer who loves her job if not the spotlight. With confident character design and effective symbolic graphics, Warren documents the highs, lows, strategies, and many tedious moments of the legislative process. The third section, in which Salazar—backed by a group that stages regular #TenantTuesday advocacy trips to Albany—helps pass the most progressive rental legislation in decades, is particularly moving; by now readers know the effort and compromises that went into it. Warren devotes perhaps a few too many pages to the former, choosing realism over a concise dramatic arc. The result is part Schoolhouse Rock!, part participant-journalism, connecting a winding but hopeful thread between what Salazar’s team refers to as “deep organizing” and substantive change. For comics readers raised on the March series who may be contemplating voting for their first time (or considering their own political futures), Warren offers grounded inspiration. Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (June)
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