In 1996, cartoonist Jason Lutes came across Wolf Von Eckardt and Sander L. Gilman's "Bertolt Brecht's Berlin: A Scrapbook of the Twenties." Lutes was captivated by the history of the German city in the years before the rise of Adolf Hitler and decided to create a comic book on the subject.
Lutes explores the city from the steamy cultural milieu of the cabaret and the struggles of middle-class people to the deaths of such real-life figures as Weimer statesman Gustav Stresemann and Nazi stormtrooper Horst Wessel.
There are stories of real historical events, like the communist march on May 1, 1929, that ended when police shot and killed 25 demonstrators.
Told slowly but with care, "Berlin" exudes the gradually building tension of an overripe, dying culture whose final demise opens the way for something far more dangerous.
He wanted the passionate and often forgotten people of pre-Nazi Berlin to live and breathe as their own compelling subject. On that score, Lutes has succeeded.