We’re relaunching The Illustrated PEN series with six guest editors—MariNaomi, Robert Kirby, Liza Donnelly, Grace Bello, and Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper of World War III. This week, we feature work from guest editor Peter Kuper’s 328-page graphic novel, Ruins.

The book explores the journey of a couple, Samantha and George, who spend a sabbatical year in the quaint Mexican town of Oaxaca in 2006. It turns out not to be so quiet, when a teachers’ strike explodes into a major political event.

In tandem, the remarkable journey that a Monarch butterfly endures on its annual migration from Canada to Mexico is woven into Ruins. This creates a parallel picture of our ever-changing world and the challenges these butterflies (and we humans) face to survive. Here’s an excerpt from the Monarch sections.  


Peter Kuper is a cartoonist, illustrator, editor, and educator. He is co-founder of the political graphics magazineWorld War 3 Illustrated and has written and drawn Spy vs Spy for Mad Magazine every issue for 20 years. He has created over a dozen graphic novels including The System, and an adaptation of Franz Kafka’sThe Metamorphosis. He and has been teaching comics courses for over 25 years in New York City and is a visiting professor at Harvard University.