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Manufacturers Assemble: Graphic Novel About Manufacturing!

One of our goals with this blog is to help manufacturing employers in eastern Ontario connect with the next generation of workers, a generation that some employers may feel completely out of touch with. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for big cultural hits that can be used to help young people see that manufacturing is an exciting industry full of opportunity. This time we’ve come across a particular item you might be interested in: a graphic novel all about manufacturing.

Graphic novels are becoming an extremely popular form of entertainment. Sales of graphic novels grew by 15% in 2015–2017, while sales of traditional comics went down. From manga to Watchmen, the world of graphic novels is exploding. For those who don’t know, a graphic novel is a cross between a comic book and a novel. Graphic novels are novels with illustrations, and they are comics with literature. They are popular with youth and adults because they can be more accessible and attractive to youth than classic literature (many popular movies and TV shows are based on graphic novels), and they can be time saving but still cerebral enough for adults.

nullGiven some of the negative misinformation about manufacturing and its reputation as an unglamorous industry, you wouldn’t expect an art form built around flashy visuals and heavy storylines to weave a narrative all about manufacturing trends. But this news just proves what we’ve known all along.

Manufacturing can be cool: you just have to find the right way to express it. 

This Graphic Novel Explores Manufacturing Trends and Potential Results

Tinkerers by David Brin and Jason Land, with art by Jan Feindt, explores a near future where manufacturing is disregarded completely (a pretty dystopian future if you ask us and our readers), and follows the path of a young graduate who goes on a quest to discover why Americans no longer like to make “things” for themselves. The story is part existential angst at the prospect of a world that is full of glitz and glam but feels no reverence to the act of crafting well-made objects, buildings, and tools. Where objects are cheap and poorly made, bridges collapse from poor design and materials. At the same time the book celebrates many traditions of manufacturing.

The world of Tinkerers is a much more bleak place than the actual realities of manufacturing, but its imagined dystopia could do a lot to open a young mind to the prospect of taking part in a long, epic tradition of making things - of tinkering.

If you like the idea of manufacturing as a subject for fiction, the authors included a helpful list of science fiction manufacturing stories at the end of Tinkerers. Here it is:

  • Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Midas Plague by Fred Pohle
  • Waldo by Robert Heinlein
  • Nano Comes to Clifford Falls by Nancy Cress
  • Makers by Cory Doctorow
  • Accelerando by Charles Stross

Hopefully one day soon there will be many more manufacturing-themed graphic novels to put on this list, just like Tinkerers!

Looking for Other Ways to Connect with Youth Tinkerers?

Download this free e-book for more ideas. 

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