Friday, May 09, 2008

Action Philosophers Giant Size Thing #1 by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey

This comic covers the life, backgrounds and philosophies of 9 different philosophers: Plato, Bodhidarma, Nietsche, Thomas Jefferson, St. Augustine, Ayn Rand, Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, and Joseph Campbell... as a comic, positing each of them as superheroes.

You will laugh and learn what they were really talking about when Plato shows his intellectual and physical wrestling moves out on those who would savage his mentor, Socrates, thrill to Nietsche's Ubermensch and Bodhidarma's cool Kung Fu philosophy... And then go on to the sexy Philosophers: Thomas Jefferson, who was having affairs with his own slaves, then completely ignored them when it came to granting them the freedom he spoke about, St. Augustine, who was quite the party boy in his youth, and Ayn Rand, who had an affair with one of her supporters, and they explained it to their spouses that this was because they were "intellectual equals", but all that hit a rut when Ayn caught him in bed with a third woman...

And then the self-help guys: Freud, Jung (his onetime friend and then long-time rival and Joseph Campbell, who explained the myths from every culture in terms of a hero journey that every one of us faces in our lives.

This is a graphic novel that seems rather paradoxical, but actually does a service for students, in laying out not only the philosophies of various philosophers, but their lives in a way that is easy for students to read and understand. It also makes the lives and philosophies interesting in a way that reading the dry words in books by Ayn Rand, Freud and Jung doesn't. Just like "Manga Shakespeare", putting these words in graphic novel format adds to their clarity and can aid students in understanding not just the how of a philosophy but the why of the philosopher. I highly recommend this series, since there will be more forthcoming.

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