Monday, 03 January 2011

Communist Manifesto Gets Comic Book Makeover

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Communist ManifestoMove over Superman and Spiderman; make room for the latest comic book installment to hit a comic shop and bookstore near you — Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in The Communist Manifesto (Illustrated)! That’s right. The classic 1848 publication has just received a brand new makeover as a comic book with the hope of making communism appealing to a new generation of young, enthusiastic comic readers.

Although comic books may no longer possess the same aura of popularity they once enjoyed among the younger crowd, who now find distractions in the latest videogames that technology has to offer, the Communist Manifesto comic book is meant to be not so much leisure reading as a study tool designed to “engage more students,” according to the comic’s creator George S. Rigakos, an associate professor of law, criminology, and political economy at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

According to Metro News, Rigakos explained: “Next year, I’m hoping to incorporate it [the comic book] into one of my courses on police and capital. I think it would do particularly well in an introduction to [a] political science-type course.”

Aside from his academic duties as a college professor, Rigakos is also the new chief editor of the Editorial Collective that runs Red Quill Books, the Canadian-based communist book publishing company that brought out the Communist Manifesto comic book.

When asked in an interview with Sequential why he chose to re-image the Manifesto in the form of a comic, Rigakos explained, “There is something personal and enveloping about a comic book or graphic novel that you simply cannot get in any other format.”

Sequential then asked him, “Why Marxism? How do you identify politically yourself? Marxist, communist, socialist?... What aspects of the Manifesto do you think should or do resonate the most today in our lives?” Rigakos responded:

Well I’m a trained sociologist. As a sociologist you can’t do science without understanding Marx. It would be like a physicist disavowing Newton.... I consider myself first a scholar which means Marx can be very wrong. He is fallible. It just turns out that when you test his analysis of capitalism he’s mostly right. His theories still explain more than contemporary economics.

He continued:

I’d identify myself politically [—] I’d say “socialist” [—] which means a commitment to create a space for collective resistance to power by undermining the material and cultural forces of domination. I hope that Red Quill and our work can be a vehicle for this resistance.

Rigakos explained that his comic depicts Marx and Engel’s literary work as “a story about villains, victims and heroes,” with the communists naturally cast as the heroes.

His is not the first comic to depict communists as heroes; In 2003, Rough Cut Comics put out a comic book series, reminiscent of Marvel Comic’s Avengers, called The Freedom Collective — tales of the adventures of “Communism’s mightiest super-heroes” saving the “workers of the world” from the super-capitalist villains.

That same year DC Comics produced a three-issue series entitled Superman: Red Son, which depicted an alternate timeline scenario in which baby Superman (known as Kal-el) crashes in Kiev, Soviet Ukraine, instead of Kansas, resulting in his becoming a superhero for the Soviet Union and communism rather than for “truth, justice and the American way.”

The Communist Manifesto (Illustrated) does not feature caped crusaders with superhuman powers leaping over tall buildings; rather, it portrays events from the current economic global recession to an apocalyptic scenario that follows the implosion of capitalism and the rise of world’s workers — much like the predictions of Marx and Engels.

This comic is in many ways similar to the Japanese manga comic book depiction of Marx’s Das Kapital that was produced by the Communist Party of Japan as a popular recruitment tool which increased the party’s membership during the recession.

Though it’s not known yet if the Communist Party of Canada plans to make use of the comic of Rigakos for recruitment purposes, the book has already attracted international fanfare and attention.

“We've barely started advertising and there have already been requests from England and Germany,” Rigakos told the Toronto Sun.

In addition to English, the comic will also soon be available in German and French.

The Communist Manifesto comic book is a sign of the times, highlighting the renewed push for communism in an age when global markets have taken a turn for the worse. This is just one tool from the arsenal of deception to assimilate unsuspecting students into the collective socialist mindset.