Unemployed Man: A New Comic Hero for Our Troubled Time
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Tough times call for creative solutions, so Erich Origen and Gan Golan created a superhero that responds to a different kind of call for help wanted: Unemployed Man.
The book's website calls The Adventure of Unemployed Man "an adventure to bring comic relief to millions of heroes struggling through the Great Recession."
"We looked around at what was happening ... so many people, including ourselves, were fighting against economic forces of incredible power—to take away jobs, homes, security—for us, that was just as powerful as a villain in any comic book, yet people had such a hard time naming those forces," Origin says. "So we felt that a superhero book was the perfect way to describe what was happening to people in everyday life."
Packed full of puns, blunt metaphors and clever copy, the graphic novel follows Unemployed Man and his sidekick Plan B as they take on villainous enemies of everyday prosperity and financial stability—like The Outsourcer. "He makes your job go POOF! Magical master of the margin and global supply chain illusionist. With a wave of his magic wand, all costs disappear!"
It's a clever move to take satire to the comic medium, you get lots of freedom, room for humor, and the power of hyperbole is on your side. "Normally the superhero genre is about escaping reality, part of the humor of this is we are pushing you right into reality," says Origen. He says that documentarians are limited. "With comic books, we could exaggerate things so that the truth becomes plainly evident," Origen argues. "That happens with all the fights in our book: whether its Super Lotto, Toxic Debt Blob, The Invisible Hand ..."
There's quite the cast of characters all with their own Facebook pages. Heroes of the recession like Wonder Mother, Fellow Man, and Master of Degrees take on The Man, Pink Slip, and, my favorite, The Human Resource: "Unemployed Man's on-again, off-again seductress and nemesis. She has a co-dependent relationship with The Man, and is always seductively threatening to lay people off by the thousands."
Origen and Golan are the pair behind the political bedtime parody, Good Night Bush. This time it's political parody without a politician as target, and it's clearly meant to be even more fun. They offer up a few bonuses to that end on their website, like real job listings with "superhero" mentioned in the description.
Golan and Origen believe the ideas are sound, and the method of communicating is where his politically kindred spirits on the left have gone awry. "People who are in more optimistic and hopeful solutions need to find ways to use creativity and use humor, to express a lot of good ideas," Golan says. This is their noble attempt and explaining unfairness in the economy.
Click through our slideshow above for some of the more entertaining character moments in the surprisingly well illustrated book.
See more of the comic at their website.
The Deregulator is a dangerous and misunderstood juggernaut of oppression.
Unemployed Man can send out 1,000 resumes in the flash of an eye.
In better times, Unemployed Man was a hero called The Ultimatum—a misguided, vigilante telling the world to pull itself up by the bootstraps, by reading his self-help books. But after the financial collapse, he takes up the cause, along with Plan-B, and the other heroes in this slideshow, of the downtrodden victims of an unfair financial system exaggerated in heroic and often hilarious proportions.
Gan Golan: "White Rage seems to be really popular. He's similar to the Incredible Hulk, but instead of a green monster he turns into a white monster because he's exposed to too many Fox News rays, and then goes on a rage and destroys all of the things he is dependent on, like social security."
Author Gan Golan dresses up as Master of Degrees for interviews, even for phone interviews with GOOD. "I like to visit junior high and high school classes and give empowering speeches on the dangers of educating yourself," he jokes. "I'm coming up with an exercise regimen that teaches students how to get in shape, by carrying a huge student loan burden for the rest of their life."
The official bio: "A perpetual graduate student who can explain just about anything, but can' pay his student loans. Sometimes, overly academic, he explains the subtext of the battle as it rages (typical old-school-comic-book style)."
Official bio: "After she refused to breastfeed Wonder Baby in the supply closet at FiasCo, she was fired. She now lives in an invisible jet, her last possession—which she built from the nearly indestructible glass ceiling at her former employer’s headquarters."
Official bio: "After The Broker made a joke of his 401K, he can't afford to retire—but most heroes won't hire him because of his age. After meeting Unemployed Man in a job line, he soon becomes his new sidekick."