Comic Book: Action Philosophers
is a comic book series by artist Ryan Dunlavey and writer Fred Van Lente, it follows the cartoon adventures of caricatures of history's most famous philosophers. Possessing broad humor and making the often complex and metaphorical ideas of philosophy more easily understood than a traditional text would, the comic won the Xeric Grant award in late 2004. The comic concluded with its ninth issue in September 2007.
Philosophers featured in this comic, in order of appearance:
This comic provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptation Distillation: People can spend years interpreting philosophical texts, but these comics make them intelligible to the average person. Most people who take the time to read the original texts would know, however, that they're vastly simplified.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Bodhidharma is apparently the person who started it all.
- Badass: Plato is a Truth in Television example. He was a wrestler before he became a philosopher, and his name means "broad shoulders". The other Philosophers were not really Badasses, but since this is a comic book many become one.
- Book Ends: Used in some of the Philosophers' comics, notably Marx and Machiavelli.
- Freud Was Right: Averted In-Universe in Freud's own strip. While it shows the importance of Freud's philosophy in the field of psychology, it doesn't play around with any sexual overtones.
- Hobbes Was Right: Well, he's featured, but it's neutral.
- Hulk Speak: Plato.
- Jack Kirby and Stan Lee: The chapter on St. Augustine includes an explanation of Manichaeanism, written and illustrated in a wonderfully Lee-Kirbyesque style: "I have imbued thee with the power fluorescent! Go forth and claim the battle that is thy birthright, FIRSTMAN!" Specifically, it's a takeoff on 1966's The Coming of Galactus.
- Little Jimmy: One issue features Karl Marx giving an explanation of communism, as he originally interpreted it, to a Little Jimmy character.
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Apparently, he was right. Too bad no one listened.
- Straw Nihilist: The first issue points out that Nietzsche probably would not approve of some of the people who claim to emulate him.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: As mentioned above, it simplifies the ideas of the world's greatest thinkers into a comic book.
- Shown Their Work: A few comics really prove that the authors have done so, giving bonuses and Easter Eggs to people who have actually read the works of these Philosophers. For example, in the Decartes issue, when Descartes explains the three kinds of thoughts, the artists drew a Chimera, which was an actual example Descartes used in the original text. The best part? This isn't mentioned at all.
- The Philosopher: The comic subverts this trope by making the characters ACTION PHILOSOPHERS.
- Took a Level in Badass: Some of the comics manage to upgrade the Philosophers into total Badasses. Notably Karl Marx, who wages war on the elite in favor of the masses as a One-Man Army.
- Truth in Television: Everything in the comics is true, except for what is obviously fictional. Actual quotes of these Philosophers are even highlighted and noted, and many of them are hilarious.
- Rousseau Was Right: The comic points out that he was actually probably wrong.
- ▄bermensch: Part of an ongoing joke with Nietzsche.
- Viewers Are Morons: Lampshaded by the Authors as the reason for the creation of these comics. A Truth in Television example is mentioned in the recommended books of the Freud-Jung-Campbell issue where it turns out that Jung wrote a book for his students, simplifying his ideas, because he wanted them to actually understand what he was teaching.
- Visual Pun: Campbell is seen in one panel stirring the world's religions and mythologies into a cooking pot. It's Campbell's Soup!