‘Out on the Wire’ Explores Narrative Journalism in a Visual Medium


9780385348430If you’re one of the millions of fans who listen to or download This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Serial, Snap Judgment, Lore or Invisbillia on a weekly basis, you most certainly are not alone. In the new book, Out on the Wire, writer Jessica Abel explores the auditory medium of narrative radio by using the visual medium of a graphic novel. Deeply researched and carefully composed, the book is designed like most graphic novels, but with far more detail. Famous figures such as Ira Glass of This American Life and Planet Money’s Robert Smith and brought to life in black and white drawings, while discussing the struggles and successes of creating popular radio shows and podcasts that follow a narrative form of storytelling.

Though radio has been around for a great deal of time, the narrative form of journalism became popular within the span of a few decades in our Millennial life. Listeners found themselves fascinated with the breakdown of a news story from the eyes of those who actually lived it. For those not familiar with it, This American Life chooses a theme every week and puts together several true stories that meet that theme. Abel is able to show in Out on the Wire that this process is not always easy and is often a down to the minute of airing procedure, following the steps of Ira Glass as a show is produced.

The book is fascinating and a valuable tool for those readers looking to create their own successful podcast, but I do warn that Out on the Wire is much denser than it initially appears. Though Jessica Abel works in a visual medium, her speech bubbles are often filled to the very edges with information and explanations from the masters of narrative journalism. At times, it almost feels as if there is too much information to be captured in comic book form. This is most certainly not a book for someone with a short attention span.

Out on the Wire gives readers and listeners a highly detailed look behind the microphone and into the minds of some of the biggest and most creative names in the business.

Out on the Wire is available August 25, 2015 from Broadway Books.


FTC Disclaimer: I received Out on the Wire from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: