Democracy – A Graphic Guide to Governance


Only one quarter of grown-ass adults can correctly name all three branches of the U.S. government, according to a 2017 study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. This bad. This very bad. But a new project by Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies offers a glimmer of hope that the next generation of the voting public might be more civically literate.


This Is What Democracy Looks Like: A Graphic Guide to Governance was the brainchild of CCS cofounder James Sturm. Weary of the uncivil discourse that has increasingly become the norm, Sturm decided to create an easy-to-grok visual guide to the underpinnings of the American political system.

The 32-page comic, developed to meet Common Core State Standards (read: classroom approved), offers a concise overview of each branch of government, along with some encouraging messages about the importance of civic engagement, lest anyone feel helpless to change the status quo.

Chelsea Edgar, for Vermont’s Seven Days, learns how the teaching tool was put together.


Creative Team

The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) is a beehive of creativity and all of the cartoonists who worked on this book have some connection to CCS. Lead cartoonist Dan Nott ’18 is a recent graduate and cover artist Kevin Czap (Czap Books) was a CCS fellow. Contributors Hallie Jay Pope (Graphic Advocacy Project) and Eisner-nominated Summer Pierre have been visiting artists. Graduate Nomi Kane ’11 (The Nib) provided early input and Eva Sturm-Gross grew up on the mean streets of White River Junction. Michelle Ollie provided design and production expertise and James Sturm contributed writing, layouts, and was the project’s editor.

On September 1, 2019 we will make a digital PDF version of This Is What Democracy Looks Like available as a free download. Check back here in September for download links.