As a cartoonist, columnist, radio host, TV guest and graphic novelist, Ted Rall has always been hard to categorize. Rall is liberal and an environmentalist, to be sure, but he’s a peculiar brand of both. He’s not scared of guns or all gun owners and he’s got a strong law-and-order streak. He seems to dismiss popular “peak oil” theories that anticipate a rapid and disastrous fall-off in petroleum production. He’s equally critical of Democrats and Republicans.
Rall is most notorious for his U.S. political commentary. A 2004 cartoon criticizing football player-turned-soldier Pat Tillman, who was killed by “friendly” fire in Afghanistan, is easily Rall’s most famous work. But arguably Rall’s most unique and important work has grown out of his infrequent jaunts through foreign conflict zones, particularly in Central Asia. A trip to Afghanistan in 2001 produced the graphic novel To Afghanistan and Back, one of the best and most prescient books on the now decade-old war. For all that, Rall’s most eloquent work isn’t political at all. His memoir The Year of Loving Dangerously recounts his turbulent but passionate youth.