Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Action Philosophers! #1

In my review of Testament, I said: "If Testament dropped the thin fiction suit and simply became the essay it is at heart, I'd buy it in a minute." Only a few days after writing that, I happened upon Action Philosophers! #1. I remembered the excellent write-up at Comics Should Be Good, and gave it a try.

This is the way to wrap Big Ideas in comic book goodness. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey have nailed the perfect formula for an essay comic. It's like bacon-wrapped sirloin: yumminess wrapped in yumminess. (Action Philospohers! is better for your waistline and arteries, however.) This is pure non-fiction, relating the lives and thoughts of the great thinkers of history. With three Great Minds per issue, it's a quick and breezy survey of the high points and big thoughts that define each philosopher.

"Quick and breezy" doesn't mean "slight and superficial", however, as Van Lente and Dunlavey do an excellent job of making it all clear and detailed. The chapter in this first issue dealing with Bodhidharma really opened my eyes by explaining concepts like zen and koans and other key concepts of Buddhism in a way that finally made sense to me. I'd certainly encountered the ideas before, and could parrot the words, but Action Philospohers! put the lightbulb over my head. That's a feeling I don't often get from comics: that Eureka! moment.

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was easily my favorite new floppy series of 2005 (although I think it was a mini before that). It's intelligent without being pretentious, didactic without being pedantic, funny without being forced, and the art is good, crisp stuff that should appeal to most people.

--Ed Cunard (for some reason, I can't log in.

Ed Cunard said...

Oh, I can now. That's weird.

Shane Bailey said...

Ok you need to stop. You've already gotten me to buy 2 different comics on your say so. Now Ed comes back in and says the same thing. Damn you! Damn you both to hell!

Mark Fossen said...

Excellent. My work here is done.

Scipio said...

Hells yeah. "Action Philosophers" is the best. I never miss an issue.

Mark Fossen said...

It's sort of a wonderful feeling, knowing I cam in late and still have two issues on the shelf I can pick up when I next hit my comic shop.