In 1996, Jason Lutes, a cartoonist with just one slim graphic novel to his name, was leafing through a magazine in the house he shared in Seattle when his eye fell on an advertisement for a book of photographs about Bertolt Brecht’s Berlin. The ad briefly described the German capital in the 1920s, with its wild cabarets, seedy bars and jostling population of artists, architects, writers and philosophers, and in as long as it took him to read it, his life was changed. Lutes had never visited Berlin. He knew almost nothing about the city beyond what the copywriter at this university press had to say about it. But, no matter. Here it was in black and white: his next project.