“Schoolhouse Rock” For Grown-Ups? R. Sikoryak’s “Constitution Illustrated Sampler”

Some might be inclined to think that my choice to review R. Sikoryak’s 2019 self-published mini Constitution Illustrated Sampler at a time when we seem to be rolling from one constitutional crisis into another is a case of good timing, but in truth my aims are far more localized, arguably even egocentric : I’m simply on the lookout for the kinds of things I haven’t reviewed before, just to expand the ol’ horizons and what have you, and the idea of a short preview of a longer, forthcoming work fits that bill nicely. Such a curiosity may be tough to evaluate on its own merits, it’s true, but it should be possible to glean from it a general sense of whether or not you want to buy the longer, no-doubt fancier, D+Q hardcover its contents are plucked from when the time comes — and in fact, getting you “jazzed up” to do so is, one would safely assume, the whole point of the thing.

Sikoryak has shown a love for history before, with Masterpiece Comics, and for politics, with The Unquotable Trump, so seeing him turn his considerable talents toward political history is really no surprise — and given that his artistic versatility borders on the endless, you know you can likely count on plenty of “eye candy” to be on offer for you even if the idea of a graphic adaptation of the chapter-and-verse text of the US constitution seems like it wouldn’t be your cup of tea at all. And so you can.

This 16-page “preview” features Sikoryak running the stylistic gamut from cartoony to Kirby to “Sunday funnies” as he delineates the Preamble, and Article 1, Sections 1-4 of this country’s foundational document (okay, its second foundational document, after the first one went belly-up), and it’s all pretty charming, I suppose, simply because you don’t really know what the next page will hold even if you’re one of those tri-corner hat goofballs who knows the text by heart, so — yeah, this is a fun enough little book that you’ll get your three bucks’ worth from, and there’s no shame in that.

As for whether or not it whets your appetite for the bigger, longer, “real thing,” well — that’s a tougher question to answer. I could easily see a reader liking what’s on offer here enough to want more, but I could just as easily see a reader saying to themselves “that’s a neat enough idea, but a couple hundred pages, or whatever, of it might be a little much.” So we’re pretty firmly in “your mileage may vary” territory here with this one.

As to which “side” of the “debate” your humble critic falls on, I guess I’ll wait and see. If other sample pages that come down the pike prove to be as downright agreeable as these are, then what the hell? I’ll probably splurge and get the full work. But if the comics budget is tight in the month it comes out, I could either see myself giving it a pass or waiting for it to turn up at a cheaper price later on. Time will tell — much at it will when it comes to the survival of this struggling old republic, I suppose.

That being said, I know sincerity and heart when I see it, and to date Sikoryak has brought that — as well as a hell of a lot of pure cartooning skill — to every project he’s undertaken to date, and this looks to be no exception. And given that the book will be coming out during an election year, a timely refresher course on what this country is, at least in theory, supposed to stand for is probably a worthy enough thing in and of itself.


Constitution Illustrated Sampler is available for $3.00 from J.T. Yost’s Birdcage Bottom Books distro at https://birdcagebottombooks.com/collections/comic-books/products/constitution-illustrated-sampler

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