Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Action Philosophers! Giant-Size Thing Volume 1 Review (Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey)

Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s Action Philosophers takes bite-sized looks at mankind’s greatest philosophers, their lives and their teachings – and it’s brilliant! 

This first volume includes: Plato, Bodhidharma, St Augustine, Thomas Jefferson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Ayn Rand and Joseph Campbell with chapters ranging from 6 to 14 pages per philosopher. 

It’s really impressive how Van Lente is able to condense complex theories and biographies into such a small number of pages. Unfortunately for me the philosophies are comprehensible while reading, especially with the assistance of Dunlavey’s humorous and enlightening artwork, but I almost never retain the nuances communicated! 

Instead, I appreciate the biographical elements to the philosophers more. Like the way Plato’s drawn as a Hulk-like wrestler, which isn’t just a jokey reference to the title “Action Philosophers”, but he was actually an aspiring wrestler in his youth! I also learned that Bodhidharma invented Zen Buddhism AND kung fu and that for all Ayn Rand’s cold intelligence, it was a cheating lover that ensured her legacy would be severely diminished for years – the heart beating even the smartest brains! 

It’s a very minor complaint but aside from Plato the wrestler and Bodhidharma the kung fu master, the other philosophers don’t really live up to the “Action” part of the title as opposed to later books where Marx was reimagined as Rambo and Derrida was The Deconstructonator (riffing on The Terminator). It doesn’t take away from any enjoyment of the book though. 

Action Philosophers Volume 1 is an excellent read for guys like me who have a passing interest in philosophy but don’t want to invest too much time reading lengthy bios/dense philosophical tracts! It’s a wonderful collection of entertaining and informative comics – highly recommended!

Action Philosophers! Giant-Size Thing Volume 1

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