Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator by Sofia Warren is a graphic memoir being published by Top Shelf Productions in June 2022. A first-hand account of Warren's experience embedded with Julia Salazar and her staff during their first year in office.
You won the election… now what? Activist organizing meets government gridlock as a millennial New Yorker cartoonist follows a first-year senator on her unforgettable journey — from outsider to insider. In 2018, cartoonist Sofia Warren was not paying attention to state politics. But that summer, her Brooklyn neighborhood started buzzing about Julia Salazar, a 27-year-old democratic socialist running for state senate whose grassroots campaign inspired an army of volunteers. When they beat the odds and won, Sofia found herself wondering what would happen next. How does it work when an outsider who runs on revolutionary change has to actually do the job? So she decided to find out. Told in comics, Radical is a remarkable first-hand account of Warren's experience embedding with Julia Salazar and her staff for their first year in office. From candid conversations and eyewitness experience, Warren builds a gripping and intimate portrait of a scrappy team of community organizers working to bring meaningful change to some very entrenched power structures, particularly for Julia's marquee issue of housing rights. At every point — from setting up an office, to navigating insider politics, to public pushback, testy staff meetings, emotional speeches, protest marches, setbacks, and victories — Warren is up close and personal with Julia and her team, observing, questioning, and drawing, as they try to translate their ideals into concrete legislation. Along the way, Warren works toward answers for questions she didn't know she was asking: what makes a good leader? What does it mean to be a part of a community? Can democracy work? And if so, how can everyday people make it happen?
All these themes will be explored next June in Sofia Warren's graphic novel debut, Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator. "So much of this experience was a surprise to me," says Warren: "that for their entire first legislative session, Julia and her staff let me be in the room; that 'the room' was just as often a food court, or a senior center, or a march in the middle of a blizzard; that they were as open with me about their frustrations as they were about their victories; and that I — an introverted, cynical millennial living through the Trump presidency — could leave the experience so motivated and inspired. I hope that readers leave this book feeling the same." "After seeing firsthand how the award-winning graphic memoirs March and They Called Us Enemy have transformed countless readers' understanding of essential issues, we can't wait to bring Sofia's book into the world," says editor Leigh Walton. "Why do elected officials act the way they do? Is there any other way? Why are we often disappointed by our governments, and how can we talk so they will listen? Radical, in its charming, accessible style, gives us a rare look behind the curtain, filling in some of these gaps in our understanding and leaving us better equipped to shape the future."