Are you tired of trying to explain to people why the American Dream has turned into a nightmare? Are you ready to puke the next time someone says all you need to do is get a good education, work hard, play by the rules and anyone can succeed? Do you grasp the scope of the scam that has been foisted on us, who benefits from our misery, and how it works? Are you sick of clueless politicians and pundits who mouth platitudes while people suffer, calling for sacrifice even as the gains pile up for the handful at the top? Are you disgusted by the shallow media that couldn't report its way out of a paper bag? Would you like to give the low information types and the indifferents a compelling story that shows how we're all being robbed? Do you like bright colors and on-target humor coupled with sardonic wit?
Have I got a book for you!!! Follow me over the Orange Omnilepticon to meet UNEMPLOYED MAN, a real hero for our times!
In October 2010, Erich Origen and Gan Golan (along with a team of other creative people) put out "The Adventures of Unemployed Man" (Back cover summary here) It's a loving parody of Golden Age comic books, with artwork that evokes the classics. It tells the story of Ultimatum, the Dark Knight of Self Help, his fall from grace when he discovers the terrible truth belying his ideals, and his struggle to recreate himself as Unemployed Man - Champion of All Who've Lost Their Jobs.
In only 80 pages, the authors show us how the American Dream no longer works, how what should be a nation of Heroes has been turned into a land of victims and exploiters. Watch as Unemployed Man finds out what it's like to hit Rock Bottom. See how The Thumb, sinister agent of The Invisible Hand, corrupts our ideals. Gasp in Horror at how the power of legendary hero Everyman has been converted into Every Man For Himself by the Self Interest Generator. Gnash your teeth in rage as the Just Us League conspires to squeeze even more wealth from their victims.
Forget The Avengers - THIS is the story that should be made into a movie.
Still wondering exactly how the economy got wrecked when the housing bubble blew up, and just how that came about? See the sample pages at Mother Jones revealing how the Deregulator trashed the Glass-Steagall Containment Device, unleashing a Toxic Debt Blob on the land.
The brilliance of this book is that it uses recognizable Superhero characters to spell out in an easily understood narrative just what's wrong with our economy today. It peels away the empty buzz phrases to show the evil behind them. Heard something like this, for example?
"Poverty: Another symptom of poor mental hygiene...In America, if anything is possible, then why have you chosen to fail? Next week: Chapter Eight: Stop blaming others and start blaming yourself.The book borrows heavily from several comic universes while creating new characters. You can find capsule bios of both heroes and villains here, such as:
...It's not the economy, stupid - IT'S YOU! Now listen here freeloader. I'm going to give you an Ultimatum. You can either keep living like a rat eating government cheese, or you can -- THINK POSITIVE!"
• Wonder Mother (Fights for working mothers everywhere—in all that "spare time" she has.)
• Master of Degrees (A perpetual graduate student who can explain just about anything, but can't pay his student loans. )
• White Rage (White Rage has a right to be angry. The only problem is, his rage is completely misdirected at the very things that would stop his rage.)
• The Outsourcerer (He makes your job go POOF! Magical master of the margin & global supply chain illusionist.)
• The Free Marketeers (The Free Marketeers are a supergroup, like Menudo, with constantly changing members. Current members: GUTTERBALL (Timothy Geithner), RUEBEN (Robert Rubin), and SUMMERHOUSE (Larry Summers).)
• The Thumb (The Thumb is the evil mastermind behind The Just Us League and part of the mystical force, The Invisible Hand. He's the author of such bestselling business books as, "Shake The Invisible Hand" and "There is No Escape, There is No Alternative." At The Hall of Just Us—villainous headquarters and recreational day spa—he runs meetings efficiently and effectively with the help of Power Point, Laissez Fairy, and The Nerve.)
I've taken the liberty of quoting from a few of the website descriptions - there is much more to be seen there, including Origin Stories for the main heroes which can be bought as posters.
The book has a wealth of visual details and memorable imagery. One of the touches that really makes it work is every so often there's a page or two of ads and 'fantastic facts', as though you were reading an 'ordinary' comic book.
Fantastic Fact: We're Number One! Among the developed nations of the earth, the USA has the highest percentage of citizens in prison -- 700 per 100,000. In comparison, China has 110, France 80, and Saudi Arabia 45 per 100,000. Suck it, totalitarian regimes, you lose!There are several pages showing thumbnails of comic book covers that tell a story all by themselves, such as "Inaction Comics" showing Unemployed Man busy.... doing not much. The covers of vintage Everyman Comics recall a far different time in this country. And the ad for the Political Science Kit is a keeper.
Okay - so it's a comic book. The ending is a little too upbeat; it's going to take years to turn things around in the real world and the villains we're facing are if anything even more evil and cartoonish than the ones in the story. The book omits the impact we're seeing of Citizens United or Occupy Wall Street - but then it did come out in 2010. It would be nice if it had cameos by Sparkman and the Blinkster, or Dr. K. The Shrill One - but you can't have everything. The message about who the real heroes are in our society is the one we all need to take to heart.
Bottom Line: This book is still a must read, one to share as widely as possible. And, it's fun! Give a copy to your kids; give copies to your libraries. (And I'm sure we know relatives who would benefit from this.) If you can't find one locally (make sure to ask so your local booksellers will be aware of this), you can find it here and get the word out. We are the heroes we have been waiting for - and now we have our own graphic adventure!