Monday, September 15, 2014
Economix: How Our Economy Works (And Doesn't Work) in Words and Pictures
Economics is a vast and scary topic for many, full of mathematical formulas and arcane concepts that try to explain how finances, governments, laws, and money work. Economix: How Our Economy Works (And Doesn't Work) tackles all of that and more in a very readable, visual, and entertaining way. It is a large, dense book, and it has many facets. It looks at the works of key theorists and contains many quotations and paraphrases from their works, such as this look at Adam Smith:
Industrial Revolution to the competing models of capitalism and communism of the Cold War and beyond.
This graphic novel was written by Michael Goodwin, a freelancer who has traveled extensively internationally and written about a number of various topics. I felt that he editorialized throughout the book, but to me that was a welcomed practice. Too often textbooks are written as if they are wisdom passed down from above, and at least Goodwin admits where he is coming from. The artwork by Dan E. Burr is clear, strong, and emphatic, balancing a sense of humor with its informative graphics and clean storytelling. Burr has been making comics for decades and is best known for his graphic novel collaborations with James Vance, the Eisner Award winning Kings in Disguise and its sequel On the Ropes. Goodwin discusses his work on Economix in this interview with John Hogan of The Graphic Novel Reporter.
The reviews I have read of this book have been glowing. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and called it "a dense yet quite accessible read," going on, "Goodwin brilliantly contextualize [sic] economic theories with historical narrative, while Burr's simple but elegant illustration employs classical techniques like caricaturing politicians and symbolizing big businesses (as a gleeful factory) to help the reader visualize difficult concepts. Brett Schenker called it "one of the most important [graphic novels] of the decade," and added, "It shows that the comic medium can transcend people with funny powers and silly costumes and instead be used to educate, activate and motivate individuals to learn more about their world but also their role in it." Zenestex called it "an approachable book for anybody who wants to broaden their understanding of economics beyond what the evening news delivers."
Economix: How Our Economy Works (And Doesn't Work) was published by Abrams ComicArts, who has reviews, a teachers guide, and more here. The book's official blog is also a treasure trove of resources and information. If you are interested in economics, go check it out!