The Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, adapted by Martin Rowson. SelfMadeHero, $19.99 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-910593-49-3
Rowson (The Wasteland), a political cartoonist whose scabrous style can be traced right back to Ralph Steadman, has produced a funny and nightmarishly dark graphic adaptation of communism’s foundational document. Rowson reimagines the book as a kind of lecture, with the bearded authors—Marx with a cigar in his hand and a cynical smirk on his face, Engels holding a great red flag yet to be unfurled—strolling through a hellish landscape in which demonic steampunk machines grind up hapless proletarians into grist for the capitalist mill. At one point, Marx lectures in a “Kapitalist Komedy Club” open-mic night. Though the backdrops, with their Pink Floyd’s The Wall aesthetic, can distract, this adaptation admirably boils down Marx’s history lessons and luridly illustrates the warning that the bourgeoisie class produces “its own grave-diggers.” While the book takes Marx’s assumptions about the inevitability of a vast proletarian uprising at face value, it also includes a wry coda on the aftermath of Marx-inspired revolutions. The result is a jauntily irreverent but fundamentally serious take on a vastly influential political work. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Genre: Comics
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