Clarion Masthead

Comics: Heroes of the Great Recession

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Salon
called it “the funniest economic primer ever written.” Britain’s Observer called it a “savage, Swiftian telling of the recession story” that is “a tonic for the toiling classes.” Robert Reich just calls it “fantastic.”

Look, up on the bookshelf! Is it a comic book? Is it a graphic novel? It’s Unemployed Man, a superhero story about the “new normal” of our jobless recovery that’s both funny and deadly serious. The title character, Unemployed Man, teams up with a group of other unemployed superheroes to fight villains like Pink Slip, The Broker and the Toxic Debt Blob, In a final confrontation, they battle the awesome power of The Invisible Hand.

At right is the “origin story” of one of these fighters for justice, the Master of Degrees. It is perhaps no surprise that one of the book’s authors, Erich Origen, is a former adjunct faculty member at a California community college.

“On the page, it looks just like a Marvel or DC comic from the 1970s,” says the Observer’s Rachel Cooke. “Every frame includes some kind of in-joke for comic fans. But it’s more than just a parody. Read it, and you’ll realize that what you have in your hands is a kind of economic primer, an A-Z of how the American economy...got into such a parlous state.”

In today’s economy, says co-author Gan Golan, “the villains think of themselves as the actual superheroes! So to begin our daring escape from the Great Recession, we as a society must name and confront the sinister villains of our time...so we can reclaim our true superpowers.” (More info at unemployedman.com.)

Image from The Adventures of Unemployed Man, by Erich Origen & Gan Golan. Copyright © by Erich Origen & Gan Golan. By permission of Little, Brown and Co.