"Now to give a longer, more detailed note on our PARECOMIC book with Michael Albert. There are two mains reasons why I wanted to do this book: one is to do with the comic book medium, that I work in and love, the other is to do with the subject matter.
As to comic books – It’s good to do these kind of stories that help show the greater range of stories and issues that can be done in comics, beyond the usual superhero stuff, and beyond the silly image of comic books being for kids (which was always an inaccurate stereotype). Comic books are an excellent way of putting over complicated information in an accessible way. The mix of words and images seems to be easier for our minds to take in, to process cognitively, than just text alone. And, in some ways, it appears to be easier to recall. So, it's a useful vehicle. I've done several books now of this 'documentary' type, such as ones on Iraq, Palestine, war, corruption, history, biography.
It's interesting to do these documentary/political/historical books – I learn a lot in the process. To do a book of this type is like doing a university thesis – I need to read a lot, research, ask questions. We often have large text sections at the back also – in this case on aspects of Parecomic, written by Michael himself. And in this case, Noam Chomsky has agreed to write an introduction too. Specifically in the PARECOMIC book we want to consider the issues of how we organise our societies and economies, via this visual medium. The main issue is therefore how to get over complicated ideas of economics and politics and sociology in an accessible way using a mix of visuals and text. How to weave narration with information with images.
As to the specific topic – I have had a dissatisfaction with the present capitalist system since I was about 16 years old (I'm 42 now). At that time I remember my family definitely thinking it was 'Just a teenage phase'. I've had the satisfaction, as time has gone on, of my family moving more to a position of 'Hmm, I think you are on to something here Sean'. Of course I learned about marxism, socialism, considered the issues of the abuses of the communist states and considered what our alternatives might be. In the last few years I have become more interested in anarchist type models and then come across Znet, Michael and the parecon model. I was impressed and wanted to learn more.
So, here was a chance to use my comic book skills, to learn more about this approach and possibly help to bring it to a new audience, or a new form at least. So, I contacted Michael, with the idea of making this PARECOMIC book together, and with some foresight he agreed that it might be good. Michael has worked with me closely on it right from the beginning, checking the script for the correct ideas, people, places, etc. giving his opinions, but always saying in the end that its my call. The script is now 90% done and the artwork is about a quarter done on this 220 page book. So, the PARECOMIC book is about his life’s struggle as an activist reaching right back to the 1960's student demos and lifestyle rebellions, and taking in the development of the anti war movement, civil rights, the woman's movement, and the black panthers to the establishment of alternative media like South End Press and Znet itself. Most importantly, of course we look at the participatory economics model in some detail. The key thing to the whole book is to present this well worked out system, for the readers consideration, and to do so in an interesting narrative with appealing visuals.
PARECOMIC is due to come out in spring 2013 from Seven Stories Press in NY. But, as is often the case, they can only afford a small advance, and this long detailed book will take us a year of considerable effort to do – on the part of myself as writer, and Carl Thompson, as artist. So we thought we would start this funding drive on the Kickstarter, to help us get a bit of extra money help as we work on the book. Of course, we are not doing this primarily for money, but for the reasons noted above of learning the issues and using the comic book medium to help spread the ideas. And we are very much enjoying that, its coming together well, and a real pleasure to see. So far it's about 30% funded and I've been impressed and pleased by the good support from both progressively minded folk, many of them from Znet, and also from comic book readers.
So, please go and have a look at the info and video there, and pledge something if you like and want to support the PARECOMIC project. Even a little adds up, bit by bit. The thing with kickstarter is that if the target money is not made in the set time (60 days) then we get ZERO. Its an all or nothing thing. So if you can afford much please consider pledging at the $40 button – as that is the level that also gets people the actual book as one of the rewards for the support. If you feel like being generous then maybe the $150 button or more!
Sean and Carl