The graphic biography Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City has a 1950s, textbook-like feel to it, with informative details, muted colors, high-contrast design and plenty of maps. Beautifully rendered by a Chilean comic artist and a French comic writer, it conveys both the small scale life of the protagonist and his big-scale accomplishments. Readers understand that Moses was an important city planner. The writing delves deep into Moses’ psyche. His identity as a German-Jewish New Yorker is important — both because he was belittled by WASPS and felt the need to do something important and also because he marveled at the squalor and scale of New York City as it was flooded by newer co-coreligionists and many others. With the inclusion of urbanist Jane Jacobs to the story as the antagonist, Christin and Balez give a balanced and critical description of Moses’ accomplishments. Class issues are hammered out. It will take a mature reader to understand some of the advanced concepts and lines like: “The 60s are no longer defined by reverence for the proprieties of the WASP but by colorful agitation.”
Dina Weinstein is a Richmond, Virginia-based writer.