January 19th, 2009 | by CASEY JARMAN News | Posted In: Politics, CLEAN UP

A Legacy of Uselessness: Bill Kelter Reads from Veeps Tonight at Powell's on Hawthorne

     
Tags: Beards
veeps!

So tomorrow's the big day, huh? Where we all celebrate Barack Obama's victory and say goodbye to the Bush years for good (well, there's always Jeb in '16 or the twins in '28, but here's to hoping those days never come).

But whatever happened to Joe Biden? We haven't seen much of his big ol' white teeth lately. And come to think of it, I haven't heard from Dick Cheney in like two years! Did he die in office?

These kinds of questions have been asked throughout the ages, Portlander Bill Kelter reveals in his new book Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance, heavily illustrated by Wayne Shellabarger and out on the Top Shelf imprint (home to graphic novels galore by James Kochalka, Jeffrey Brown and famed comics writer Alan Moore). The office has at times been so mysterious that even the VPs themselves have pointed it out ("Look at all the Vice Presidents in history. Where are they? They were about as useful as a cow's fifth teat." —Harry S. Truman).

Veeps snowmobile

The book features a gorgeous black and white portrait of each VP—think of Charles Burns' illustrations in The Believer to envision Shellabarger's awesomeness—and humorous illustrations throughout (see the above, but unused, McCain/Palin graphic here to get a taste for Shellabarger's style). Kelter and Shellabarger—both locals, mind you—worked in tandem to create a handy reference guide to men often forgotten by history, while at the same time underscoring all the reasons they were forgettable in the first place. A startlingly high percentage of these men seem to have either been drunks upon being nominated or fell into alcoholism after confronting the inherent boredom of the office. The ones who weren't alcoholics mostly just wanted an easy job.

Now that I know all of this, I wish I'd had loftier goals growing up. I'd have made a fantastic do-nothing Vice President.

Bill Kelter speaks at Powell's on Hawthorne at 7:30 pm tonight, and on the eve of the inauguration (one where yet another man with a mischievous smile will take the lesser office), Veeps seems more relevant than ever.
 
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