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Parecomic graphic novel moving on

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THe PARECOMIC graphic novel about Michael Albert and Parecon ideas, with the Chomsky intro, is out and about now. Please check it out and get a copy yourself. Here are some reviews and opinions the book has got already:

"As a primer on the history and theory of participatory economics, this title is never short on ideas, tracing the development of Michael Albert’s theories on self-management, social justice, and internationalism, and their origins in the civil disobedience and consciousness-raising movements of the late ’60s and early ’70s. As a student at MIT, Albert was inspired by the culture of activism to found Z magazine, ZNet, and the International Organization for a Participatory Society. Some readers may wonder why Wilson (AX: Alternative Manga) and Thompson (the webcomie Green Benches) have chosen Albert’s story for treatment as a visual narrative, and that treatment definitely makes some of book’s issues more palatable to a wider audience.

Artist Thompson is also very adept at marrying the literal and the symbolic to allow Wilson’s prose, and therefore Albert’s ideas, to resonate with readers. There are moments, though, when the book stalls and readers find themselves wading through lengthy, text-heavy panel sequences featuring shots of Albert discussing a given issue. Still, Thompson and Wilson can be very inventive with their effects. Parecomic is inspired at times, and as a treatise on participatory economics, it’s pretty great. As a comic, though, it’s just pretty good." - Publisher's Weekly 

"Really enjoying reading it. I think comics bring something different to the experience. I was sitting in a cafe with my wife yesterday reading a comic book at 51yrs! Holding and reading a comic book makes you feel different... I guess comic book form has to be succinct and particular in what it chooses to impart to the reader. A difficult job I would gather. But truly enjoying it... I think you have done brilliantly and I will definitely be recommending the book to friends, even those not interested in activism." - James, IOPS member in Australia.
 "As a Kickstarter supporter I received my complimentary copy of "Parecomic" and read it through over the weekend. Congratulations, you and Carl Thompson created a very readable, comprehensive and inspiring book. Presenting Michael Albert's background and the historical development of parecon and paresoc, and its relation to Marx and others, turns a subject that can be often perceived as dry and impenetrable into one that is fresh, comprehensible and insightful. Your graphic book is an accessible introduction into the important ideas of parecon and paresoc. Thanks!" - John, Kickstarter supporter


Here is a short video we made about the book:


The book can be got directly from the publisher, Seven Stories Press:

There is a digital version on itunes:


And more about it can be seen on Sean's web site:


Discussion 20 Comments

  • Jon Doe 1st Jul 2013

    this is a great, informative read!

  • Kim Keyser 2nd Jul 2013

    Yeah. Read it at once after it was published (downloaded it through Amazon). I was afraid it was going to be way to superficial (I mean, it's a comic, right?), but instead it was both lucid and deep at the same time. I too, can recommend it!

    I hope we'll see more similar stuff, in the future.

    Great work, Sean! And thanks to all those of you who donated money, making the project a reality. :)

  • Zane Hannan 3rd Jul 2013

    I just want to say thanks for the book, Sean!

    I received mine as a Kickstarter reward a couple of weeks ago. I haven't had time to read it yet, as the company I work for is downsizing, so there's huge stress, and there's all the masses of other hopeful activist stuff going on in London and elsewhere which takes priority, but it looks great!

    One day, when things calm down (ha!), I'll sit back and read it.

    I haven't been on the IOPS site for ages, so I am glad I caught this blog to be able to thank you and congratulate you two.

    I wish you both all the very best.

    Big love!

  • Sean Michael Wilson 3rd Jul 2013

    Thank you everyone, your nice words warm our hearts. Jon - thanks, we aimed to balance information with engaging visuals, as comics do best. Kim - indeed, as we discused before, this book alos helps get over the silly idea that 'comics are for kids', which only the unenlightened still think! Zane - I hope you have a more balanced time soon.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 4th Jul 2013

    Just got mine in the mail. I think the idea of expressing ideas through comics is huge. Very excited to read and share!

  • Sean Michael Wilson 4th Jul 2013

    Good man Will, thank you. Yes, please do spread the word. As we all know very few such books on 'social issues' become well known. So we have to push where ever we can.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 6th Jul 2013

    just finished reading parecomic...what a great venue for explaining parecon!
    i'm ordering more for my busy friends and family...

  • Sean Michael Wilson 7th Jul 2013

    Great stuff Kristi, thank you.
    That is part of the purpose of course - that comic books can put over complicated info in a way that is easier to take in (and also some studies show, easier to remember). One study i found recently, and became friends with the researcher on, is this
    'Graphic presentation: an empirical examination of the graphic novel approach to communicate business concepts' . In which they conclude: "Results of Study 2 find that verbatim recognition was superior with graphic novel texts compared to traditional textbooks."

    Except in the case of PARECOMIC we are not lowering ourselves to anything as base as communicating 'business concepts',

  • Milan Rai 8th Jul 2013

    I'm glad to have been a Kickstarter supporter of this book. It's a valuable complement to Michael Albert's memoir Remembering Tomorrow, as well as to his Parecon writings.
    Well done!

  • Sean Michael Wilson 8th Jul 2013

    Thanks Milan - please also help to spread the word. We need the orders, and the promotion of the ideas.

    And just now the publisher brought to my attention a quite positive review from a very influential source (for libraries and colleges) - The Library Journal. Given the radical subject the book is about and the large amount of text used (for a comic book) the reviewer gives us a pretty good recommendation. The 4th one down:


  • Sean Michael Wilson 8th Jul 2013

    And a couple of days ago, Micheal Albert himself made a detailed post about his reactions and feelings regrading PARECOMIC, saying some rather nice things about our effort and end result, which is great to know:

    " I admit that I was nervous when I finally sat down to read the whole book. But it was just my creaking bones worrying, I guess, because the book is incredibly effective, in my view, at creating a friendly path into the ideas it offers. Sure, one can read longer full text books on the topics to get longer full text renditions. But there is something about seeing the images along with the more succinct text that really does help communicate the ideas. Parecomic is fun to read, but no less informative and, I hope challenging, as a result."

    Full article here:

  • Mark Evans 11th Jul 2013

    This is a great contribution to the popularisation of participatory economics etc - thanks for all your hard work!

  • Sean Michael Wilson 11th Jul 2013

    Good man, Mark, thanks. Please do help promote the book more, especially in the UK.

    And the connected (generally) book will be out in September: 'FIGHT THE POWER: A Visual History of Protest Amongst the English Speaking Peoples.'


    • Kim Keyser 12th Jul 2013

      Yay! Didn't know that. Looks cool! :)

    • Zane Hannan 20th Jul 2013

      Fight the Power looks great. Thanks for the heads up! I wish I had known about it earlier.
      I know that this idea may seem blasphemous, even heretical on this site, but could you set up a facebook page for it? Also a website? With links to youtube videos and other documentary sources?
      It'd make it much easier to share links, and get a viral campaign going.
      Have you linked up with Raoul Martinez? I'll PM you.

  • Sean Michael Wilson 30th Jul 2013

    Here is an enlightened library in Australia, i think, that has PARECOMIC among it stock:


  • Sean Michael Wilson 30th Jul 2013

    And a lady, who in a review of the book, did not take kindly to the ideas of Parecon... opps:


    • Sean Michael Wilson 30th Jul 2013

      She mentions that she did not find the 'character of Michael sympathetic'. This is a curious barrier which writers come up against - an unexamined inclination that all characters must be 'sympathetic', or at least the main character should be. Are people in lived experience ALL sympathetic, most of the time? Clearly not, so why do they need to be in fiction?

      What does that mean? If we think of sympathetic as "Agreeably suited to one's disposition or mood; congenial..." or sympathy being "favorable or approving accord..." then it means that the character has to fit into what you are already comfortable with, agree with. Nothing challenging, nothing disagreeable. Now that is hugely limiting for a writer - it means that many aspects of the human character can not be gone into. For example, Macbeth - he kills the king while he sleeps, in his own house. There cant be many people for whom such an action fits in with their own disposition or finds approval. Ok, so no Macbeth if all characters need to be sympathetic.

      Let's look at it another way, if we see sympathy as "sharing the feelings of another, especially in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration..." then that is a bit wider, easier for writers to work with. You dont have to AGREE with the characters actions, you just need recognise and share some of their feelings they went through or feel compassion for the trouble they had. So, in this case, why does the reviewer not recognise that Michael went through some very deep and emotional experiences as a young radical in the late 60s? Or feel compassion for the struggles that he and Lydia went through in the 70s while they pushed a long difficult road as activists? Those are all in the PARECOMIC book.

      It seems to me that this idea of requiring 'sympathetic characters' is rather connected to a focus on not having an challenging ideas in books, films,etc. And so i conclude - arse to it!

  • Sean Michael Wilson 2nd Aug 2013

    We just got this excellent review of Parecomic, noting it as 8.5 out of 10, pretty high:

    "This graphic novel challenged me to think through new ideas as well as the world we live in. Even better it did so in a way I didn’t find boring or grating to read..." (which is exactly our key aim)