I took a macroeconomics course in college and it was pretty interesting, but it was the only education I ever got on the subject. I learned about supply and demand, nominal GDP versus real GDP and all this other stuff that I’ve largely forgotten. My teacher was awesome though. That’s all I remember. So really, it’s great when someone comes along and writes a primer on economics that is both highly informative and easily accessible. Dan Burr and Michael Goodwin did that here, and they did it in comic form. Heck yes.
Economix is a fantastic read that, while simple in terms of word choice and depth, is very wide-ranging and informative. Like Stan Mack’s book on the American Revolution, it leaves the details for trained historians to scribble down, but gives the average reader a good idea of the most important points in an easy to read format. It’s the Understanding Comics of, well, economics.
Beginning with general ideas and time periods, Economix narrows down and traces the origins of our modern economic system, first defining basic principles and the men who figured those out. Then they move on to looking at economics first from a European perspective, then from an American perspective, spending the bulk of the book on the US’ economic history. It’s a refreshing perspective on America’s past, because it shows how class has affected our development as a country and how it still affects us, even as we deny its influence.
They stay true to the facts, to say the least. While they often swing left-wing in their writings, they are just as often praising of the free market system this country claims to embrace as they are critical of it. They even give props to some economists I generally have a bad impression of— declaring Hayek to be misunderstood and giving credit to Friedman in between jabs.
They’ll probably still catch flack and get their fair share of Marxist accusations, of course. If anything though, this book solidified my belief in the mixed economy. You can come to your own conclusions after reading this, but personally this book makes me want to grab an Objectivist by the shoulders, shake them and holler “THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING TO SAY ALL ALONG.”
The art style, as they explain on their website, takes inspiration from the Kurtzmann days of MAD Magazine and Hanna Barbera, among other influences. It is a nice smooth style which reduces complex ideas to simpler icons, enhancing the reader’s ability to understand them. Characters and historical figures are all caricatures, much like that MAD style, and the use of dark values and smooth thick lining creates a picture that is very easy on the eyes. Even when they talk about very serious matters like income inequality, the use of private gunslingers to break up protests, the screwy post-Civil War Reconstruction corruption and other topics, it still has the light-feeling of an educational cartoon. Bad events have less gravity. All the design choices here are about making the information easy to process, and Burr and Goodwin succeed admirably.
I just want to have a library where every subject on Earth has an easy to read 101 level graphic novel dedicated to it, sorted out exactly like a library. No fiction allowed, but still organize everything by Dewey Decimal System. Maybe that’s too niche, but whatever. It’s my pet project for when I turn old enough to collect Social Security (if it still exists) and this book will be the beginning of that library.
TL;DR: Economix is your go-to guide for building a good foundation of knowledge on a subject everybody could stand to know more about. EDJOOKATE YO-SELFS.
Economix is written by Michael Goodwin with art by Dan E. Burr. It is published by Abrams ComicArts and available in bookstores everywhere. Ask for it at your local comic book shop or, support Spandexless by purchasing through our Amazon store.