Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation presents 27 interviews with everyone from “John Fuller: Mail Carrier” to “Mario and Bob Anichini: Stone cutters” and “Brett Hauser: Supermarket box-boy”. It’s not taking anything away from Terkel’s original work to say that this volume comes across as a period piece: it’s like a time capsule from an era when most workers were male and females were relegated to a few sex-typed occupations (prostitute, waitress, nurse).
This graphic adaptation by Harvey Pekar and 16 artists successfully illustrates the voices of Terkel’s workers while providing new layers of meaning through the artist’s interpretations of the stories. Pekar is the logical choice to adapt Terkel’s book, since his original work largely deals with the daily lives of ordinary working people: most often himself, but also friends and family including his coworker Robert McNeill. As the title of his long-running series American Splendor (1976-2008) implies, Pekar finds splendor where others might see only the daily grind of existence, and has a gift for finding the telling anecdote or quotation to illustrate a point or typify a character.