Illuminating America’s economic woes through parody and comics: The Adventures of Unemployed Man by Erich Origen and Gan Golan

The Adventures of Unemployed man

In all honesty, Adam Smith isn’t particularly interesting to me. My high school economics textbook was Frank Herbert’s Dune (seriously – in addition to other student-centered projects), so it’s probably no wonder that I made a ‘C’ in ECON 2105 in college when I was bombarded with charts, graphs, numbers, and 90-minute lectures. I attended a weekend-long music festival in the days prior to the final exam, and I remember nothing from the course. It was Boring (note the capital ‘B’).

But what if the concept of the Invisible Hand had been introduced as a sinister force wreaking havoc upon the working class under the control of the Just Us League, an exclusive group of CEOs including The Man, The Thumb, The Golden Sack, and even the Laissez Fairey?

The Thumb and his attempt to extinguish Everyman from the economy

'Unemployed Man' offers an allegory/parody for the current economic crisis that could provide some scaffolding for beginning to comprehend the complexities of how capitalism and democracy struggle for balance.

While Origen and Golan’s new comic book is heavily biased and not meant to be taken entirely seriously, bits and pieces could be used to hook student interest to begin to learn about complex, rather abstract ideas that are usually presented in, well, boring ways when preparing for standardized tests rather than adult citizenship.  For example, if excerpted, any of the fantastic facts presented throughout the text could serve as lesson hooks for various purposes in both language arts and social studies classrooms.  Furthermore, characters like Wonder Mother (complete with her own Facebook profile, along with the rest of the major characters) illuminate concepts like the glass ceiling without having to navigate complex sets of data. Rather, as an introduction to an idea like the glass ceiling, Wonder Mother might just offer the intrigue necessary to invite students to begin to explore and understand something that would normally just be words on paper … lulling even the teacher to sleep.

Recently featured on CNN as well as earning praise throughout the press, various excerpts are easily found all over the internet to be proudly displayed on your Smartboards or linked in the computer lab. Texts like Unemployed Man are relatively cheap, but for the quick and easy ways that they can be introduced in the classroom, simple awareness of pop culture or one copy that a trusting teacher allows students to borrow one-by-one will expose the larger group to more than just textbooks.

Living in a college town, I know this character all too well … How could you use this one simple page to illuminate a new understanding of what a college diploma will mean for upcoming graduates?

This single page can be processed in less than a minute by most students, but the possibilities for discussion or connections thereafter are endless.


About marcginsberg

I teach high school English in Athens, GA. I read graphic novels and catch live music whenever possible. I walk my dog Humphrey and kid myself that I'm a distance runner.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Classroom practice, Pop culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Illuminating America’s economic woes through parody and comics: The Adventures of Unemployed Man by Erich Origen and Gan Golan

  1. Pingback: Thanks, Unemployed Man! You’re saving the day! | Graphic Texts in the Classroom

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