Current economics in comics, video and… “talking objects”

Urrutia comix

This is a new way of communicating economic theory that uses video, popular culture, and comics as a platform for “spimes,” “talking objects” that talk about the everyday importance of the advances in academic economics.

There have begun to be some good MOOCs on Economy that provide the context necessary to be able to access that type of higher education that the continental European university seems to want renounce. But changing the tone and the depth of the social narrative requires much more than that. It’s hard enough to transmit economic culture, and spreading the advances in economic theory and incorporating them into the social debate on topics as hot as intellectual property or innovation seems completely out of reach.

Doing just that was the mission that we gave our companion María Rodríguez a few months ago. Her objective: create a new mode of communication capable of permeating popular culture. The result: Juan Pop, the first economist superhero.

Talking objects, informative content

objetos parlantes juanpopThe formula is simple: a story, a comic, and daily objects that “talk.”

The story: Juan Urrutia is a economist who, while on a visit to a particle accelerator, has his heart broken by a rise in electricity rates. His friend Doctor Generic gives him a free (libre) heart, and he becomes Juan Pop, the terror of crony capitalism. When he returns home, he realizes that he transfers his economist superpowers to all the objects he touches. From then on, with their friends Dr. Generic, D.J. Maresi, and his cow Abundance, he will fight against Count Monopoly to free the market from rents and privileges.

The objects: Mugs, blankets, cookies and all kinds of daily objects illustrated with by a comic strip artist from Buenos Aires, Clara Lagos, will carry a QR code that can be read with a cellphone and that leads to a page in which a video of Juan Urrutia and an informative text explain, in a simple and accessible way, the latest evolution in Economic Theory.

Dreams have no owner

taza juanpopDuring the recent Somero 2015, María presented the first “Juan Pop” object: a coffee mug illustrated with the slogan “Dreams have no owner” and a QR that leads to an accessible explanation on why Economic Theory no longer defends the need for intellectual property. It’s a polemic topic on which economic theory has advanced spectacularly in the last fifteen years, but without its conclusions and nuances reaching public opinion.

New adventures of the first economist superhero will follow, with new objects and messages. The objective, María tells us, is to create an emotional and attractive hook, taking current topics in economic theory and “give them a body and bringing them into everyday life.”

Bringing economic theory to objects and turning them into a new and informative medium means going from disseminating online content to the manufacture and physical distribution of goods. But that wasn’t the hardest part.

mayra juan pop someroThe hardest thing was convince Juan [confesses María with a sly smile]. When we recorded the video, we didn’t tell him that it was going to appear linked on a mug, or that the context was going to be the story of Juan Pop. We wanted him to see it first. And the time to do it was at Somero. We wanted him to see the reactions, to participate in conversations that would be started with the mug… and to realize that Juan Pop could become something really subversive.

And the results didn’t disappoint: few people who attended Somero 2015 left without a mug, and none without talking about it and commenting on the video and the text that accompanies it.

Our launch and first offer

At 4 PM today, we will open the shop with the first product in the catalog: the “dreams have no owner” mug. For the occasion, a limited run of 200 mugs has been produced that will be our first offer, for only 10€ (VAT included). Don’t miss out — get yours!

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

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