Verso_978-1-781682616_bohemians_large_cmyk-max_221 more images image

Bohemians: A Graphic History

“Marvelously drawn tribute to free thinkers ... Engaging, informative, and inspiring.” – Joe Sacco

The countercultures that came to define bohemia spanned the Atlantic, encompassing Walt Whitman's Brooklyn and the Folies Bergère of Josephine Baker, Gertrude Stein's salons and the Manhattan clubs where Dizzy Gillespie made his name. Edited by Paul Buhle and David Berger, Bohemians is the graphic history of this movement and its illustrious figures. The stories collected here revisit the utopian ideas behind millennial communities, the rise of Greenwich Village and Harlem, the multiracial and radical jazz and dance worlds, and the West Coast, Southern, and Midwest bohemias of America, among other radical scenes.

Drawn by an all-star cast of comic artists, Bohemians is a broad and entertaining account of the rebel impulse in American cultural history. Featuring work by Spain Rodriguez, Sharon Rudahl, Peter Kuper, Sabrina Jones, David Lasky, Afua Richardson, Lance Tooks, Milton Knight, and more.

The ebook edition is expanded from the paperback edition, and includes additional chapters on the swing music scene, La Boheme and midwest bohemians, as well as expanded material on the Greenwich Village intellectuals, Walt Whitman and Harlem jazz club Minton's Playhouse.


  • “Successfully honing their lives into intense, occasionally densely worded comics, this anthology proves the assertion, quoted here, by Modern Quarterly editor VF Calverton, that 'the cartoon speaks a language that is direct, pithy and dramatic.'”
  • “This collection of marvelously drawn stories pays tribute to the free thinkers who’ve moved against society’s grain and turned their backs on convention. Engaging, informative, and inspiring.”
  • “Words become graphic and the graphics bring Bohemia alive in this wonderful history by Buhle and Berger. There is nothing worse than being severed from one’s own roots, as demonstrated by decades of identity movements, there is nothing worse than being stripped of one’s heritage, unless it’s the theft of identity by thieving oppressors. This graphic anthology beautifully reconstructs the roots of America’s counter-culture from the lost stories of men and women, blacks and whites, gay and straight who were the original refuseniks of Bohemia. I can’t wait for more.”
  • “Disaffected wealth looking for fun, imaginative outsiders wanting a voice, reaching across and within ideology, dreams, expression and desires. Great intro to an American century of influences, individuals and scenes producing ideas for the future to engage.”
  • “Once again, Paul Buhle has assembled a stellar group of writers and cartoonists to illuminate a subject often ignored by the wider pop-obsessed culture. The stories in Bohemians: A Graphic History bristle with real-life energy and detail, bringing this slice of history to vibrant life. The tale of Yosl Cutler’s radical Yiddish puppets by Joel Schechter (featuring Spain Rodriguez’s last published work, with an assist by Jay Kinney), is worth the price of admission alone.”
  • “Delightful, witty, and informative, Bohemians is a bar-raising performance in the genre of graphic histories… a comic-art volume that narrates a complicated story of race, sex, and rebellion with great aplomb to provide portraits that are candid and humane.”
  • “A terrific appraisal of culture’s gypsies, tramps and thieves, worthy of the editors’ judgment: “Obituaries for bohemia have, in short, always been premature.””
  • “Both a visual treat and an edifying look at alternative culture.”


  • Exclusive Joe Sacco comic: Down! Up!

    As part of our week dedicated to Graphic Novels, here we bring you Joe Sacco's take on the war in Iraq. Originally published in 2007 in War With No End, a collection of writers and activists responding to the ongoing War on Terror, in the strip Sacco puts his incisive reporting to the task of representing the US army's attempt to train a motley bunch of Iraqi volunteers.

    Continue Reading

  • Paul Buhle picks his top 5 comics!

    To celebrate our week dedicated to our graphic novel selection we asked Paul Buhle (editor of some of our most popular graphic novels including Wobblies, Che, Bohemians and many more) to pick the five comics that have most inspired his work.

    Comic art has been in my life since at least age 5, when I can recall my (older) sisters reading them aloud, a decisive part of my learning to read. If nonfiction comics happened to be my destiny, then Classics Illustrated, especially the William Tell comic with its heroic attack on the authorities, must have been predictive. Jump down to 1959 and Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book, a classic satirical assault upon modern American business culture-- wholly written and drawn by Harvey Kurtzman, the very first comic to appear as a paperback original—was my first of five. Too bad, for the massively influential creator of Mad Comics, that it was a commercial failure.

    Continue Reading

  • The story of radical Comix: Paul Buhle on the history of a genre from 1920 to today

    To kickstart our week dedicated to our selection of non-fiction graphic novels, we bring you Paul Buhle's introduction to Michael Demson's Masks of Anarchy: The Story of a Radical Poem from Percy Shelley to the Triangle Factory Fire. In this piece, Buhle offers us a panoramic history of the development of graphic novels from Gasoline Alley in the 1920s to the current stars of the graphic novel world: Art Spiegelman; Alison Bechdel; Harvey Pekar and Joe Sacco.

    Continue Reading

Other books by David Berger and Paul Buhle

Other books of interest