Smash Pages Q&A | David Hajdu talks ‘A Revolution in Three Acts’

The music critic and writer discusses his new graphic novel that explores the lives and work of three of vaudeville’s biggest stars.

David Hajdu is an an acclaimed critic who’s best known as a music writer in magazines like Rolling Stone and The New Republic, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Review of Books, and in books like Lush Life and Positively 4th Street. Hajdu is also one of the great writers about comics.

His 2008 book The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America is simply one of the best books written about comics. In his book Heroes and Villains, in between articles and essays about Billy Eckstein and Dinah Washington, Mos Def and Joni Mitchell, were essays about Joe Sacco and Dan Clowes, Jules Feiffer and Marjane Satrapi.

Hajdu is currently the music editor at The Nation magazine and in the past two years he’s written two books very different from his previous work. 2020’s Adrienne Geffel was a novel written in the form of an oral history about an avant garde musician in 1980’s New York City. His new book is a graphic novel that Hajdu made in collaboration with his friend the artist John Carey. A Revolution in Three Acts: The Radical Vaudeville of Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, Julian Eltinge looks at three of vaudeville’s biggest stars and the ways that their work was not what we typically think of vaudeville. Instead they were pushing boundaries and defying genres and expectations in ways that make them very modern. We recently spoke about the book and his work and trying to focus on creative work.

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