OTTAWA – Carleton Prof. George Rigakos is taking an “anything but textbook” approach to his teaching and writing. He is creating a four-part comic book series that features the original words of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as expressed in the Communist Manifesto. The first volume is now available.
“The Manifesto is a foundational and fundamental text that students should be aware of,” says Rigakos. “I thought it would be intriguing to bring this part of history alive using a graphic novel or comic book approach that would engage more students.”
He adds: “I am also hoping that this approach will spark a more informed discourse by the general public about a political pamphlet that forged the ideological foundations for one of the most idealistic yet repressive eras of human history.”
Written in 1848, the Manifesto described the Communist League’s purpose and program by taking an analytical approach to the history and concept of class struggles. Authors like Maerin Seymour-Smith have included it on a list of the 100 most influential books ever written.
“The Communist Manifesto lends itself to the graphic novel or comic book format as it can be interpreted as a story about villains, victims and heroes,” says Rigakos. “The original work of Marx and Engels focused on the bourgeoisie, the proletariat and their heroes - the Communists, which will each constitute separate comic books in the series.”
Rigakos points out that the format has been used by many others to engage the public. “Comic books are about more than just superheroes. They have been used as a venue for great works of literature on through to portraying important social issues. I think our series is a real work of art.”
Rigakos, who is an associate professor in the Department of Law, researches in the area of political economy and policing. He is also head of the editorial collective for Red Quill Books, a new peer-reviewed publishing house committed to the support of critical political economy, sociology, criminology, legal studies and social science research.