The webcomics blog about webcomics


By rights I should have talked about this yesterday, but then when would we have discussed Too Boat, Too Boner? So today it is.

:01 Books is not resting after two years of transition from a 20-titles-per-year publisher to a 50-titles-per-year publisher; particularly in the wake of Gina Gagliano’s shift to Random House — which I’m sure everybody at :01 would agree is actually a win for the industry, although I’m sure they feel the sting of her absence — they have been expanding not only in volume, but also in focus.

Recall that they are not only the only graphic novel publisher that addresses every age range, as well as one of the few that are actively bringing European comics to American readers¹. They have launched thematic lines of graphic novels — Science Comics, Maker Comics — while also staking their reputation on supporting authors of distinctive voice. It’s not obvious what niche they’ve left unserved.

And now we know: civic education and engagement:

That’s the goal of a slate of new graphic novels from World Citizen Comics, which aim to excite and inform readers about how they can fight corruption in elections, blast fake news with truth-telling, and even battle would-be dictators both near and far through a better understanding of constitutions and the rule of law.

It’s significant that the new sub-imprint was announced in Entertainment Weekly, who tell us that there will be seven books initially, starting in Spring of next year (just in time for a major exercise of the political process here in the US). It’s a new enough endeavour that the :01 and Macmillan websites (as well as that of Roaring Brook Press, of which :01 is an imprint … the lines of hierarchy can get kind of scrambled) haven’t caught up to the news yet. But given the enormous impact of the March trilogy (certainly to be matched by the forthcoming sequel, Run), it appears that it’s a niche that can match up ideas and minds with the intention of doing some good.

World Citizen will feature :01 vets like Shelli Paroline & Braden Lamb (on Breaking (The) News by Jennifer Pozner, on modern media culture) and George O’Connor² (on Un-Rig: How To Fix Our Broken Democracy by Dan Newman, on the influence of dark money on politics and policy). They’ll also bringing new folks into the fold, like Kasia Babis (on Re-Constitution by Beka Feathers, about resisting authoritarianism and buttressing the rule of law), who’s been killing it at The Nib.

I’m expecting the tone of the imprint will be something similar to Josh Neufeld’s The Influencing Machine, which is one of the best, densest, but easy-to-read primers on How The World Really Works. As for the future, it’s not like the world will be getting any less complex (or the challenges facing us any easier) after the initial tranche of books is done; we seem to be more open-eyed about the resurgence of authoritarianism around the world than we have been in the past³, but the generations that didn’t live through the last antidemocratic period need to learn history — a history that those in charge may not want them to learn. A line of books made for a general audience (as opposed to political junkies), especially one that’s at least partially pitched at younger readers, will be welcome.

And hey, maybe they look at what Zach Weinersmith is doing in the same sphere (his comic series on the American political system with his political scientist brother, his forthcoming book in favor of open immigration with a prominent Libertarian economist) and we get more of his work in book-sized chunks incisively determining what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it, but with dick jokes. If you’re going to tackle something as serious as the defense of democracy itself, you gotta lighten the mood at least a little.

Spam of the day:

The gun that was meant to end his suffering led him to the biggest breakthrough in tinnitus treatment.

Fact: I have had a lifelong sensitivity to pressure and temperature changes, which manifests (primarily at night) as a mild case of tinnitus.
Fact: Stay the fuck away from me with a gun. Thank you.

¹ Even though not enough of you bought Last Man and the series stalled on the most devastating cliffhanger imaginable, damn you all.

² Gotta have a project lined up for when Olympians ends, which will simultaneously be a magnificent accomplishment and a very sad day.

³ Which is damn good, because the last time you had so many aspiring strongmen in so many places, it led to 50 million or so dead people and multiple continents in ruins.

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