‘Pinko Joe’ is an anti-capitalist manifesto in both plot and presentation

Pinko Joe

Christopher Sperandio, 96 pgs, Argle Bargle Books, arglebarglebooks.com, $28.75

Who knew that political resistance could be laugh-out-loud hilarious?

When a (gasp!) rogue social democrat is torn away from his capitalist home world and deposited on a planet where collective bargaining and human rights mean more than profit, he becomes the star member of Metro Squad — tasked with stopping the nefarious forces of capitalism wherever they should rear their ugly head! Creator Christopher Sperandio’s tale of gunfights, haymakers, and gangs of corporatist thugs is a sort of absurdist allegory exploring the dangers of profit-over-people ideology. Readers will find some serious food for thought at the centre of the snappy, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, making it that much more fun to engage with.

The deeper beauty of Pinko Joe is that it’s an anti-capitalist manifesto in both plot and presentation: taking inspiration from the artistic practice known as détournement, Sperandio lifted panels from a selection of 1950s-era True Crime comics that had fallen into public domain and pieced them together into an entirely new narrative.

This “repurposing” approach is surprisingly effective — Sperandio’s careful recolouring and fine eye for visual similarities create a seamless vehicle for his madcap humour, and the final product is a pleasure to read.

If there’s one thing that capitalists, communists, and anarchists can all agree on, it’s that Pinko Joe is worth the buy.