Venezuela’s Constitution as a Graphic Novel
Hugo Chávez, draped in the Venezuelan flag surrounded by children adorns the cover of 5 million copies of a comic book version of the Venezuelan constitution. The comic will be given to every child in the country in the next weeks, blurring the line between entertainment and propaganda. The current President Nicolás Maduro called the comic “a beautiful gift to our nation’s children.” In full disclosure I was involved in the latest election for the losing side (though on the outskirts of it).
The goal of the comic book features Chávez and his “revolutionary brothers” act out the various constitutional provisions within while fending off “imperialist agents garbed in black trench coats.” Some have described those sinister villains as a barely veiled jab at America. The comic’s goal is to indoctrinate children. With the use of Chávez, the comic falls into more of a cult of personality we see in other nations, where political figures are raised to mythic levels.
These 5 million comics ironically also are coming out during a nationwide paper shortage which has lead many newspapers to stop printing due to lack of paper. Books can run for as high as $80 and toilet paper runs thin (as in hard to get a hold of, the paper itself isn’t thin, though it could be I guess). This illustrated version clocks in at 320 pages, that means 1.6 billion sheets of paper used, plus the cover.
The latest version of the constitution has been around since 1999, and the country has a habit of going through a lot of them. This latest version has lasted twice as long as the average of the 25 versions that came before. There was an attempt to change this one in 2007, so we’ll see how long this version lasts.
The graphic novel is also already looking at a second edition. The artists behind it, Omar Cruz is looking to make it more of a panel comic as opposed to stand-alone illustrations as seen in the first edition.
No matter your opinion of the country, it’s an interesting use of comics in education and politics.
(via Foreign Policy)