A couple of years ago, economist Joe Cortright sent me an email with the subject head "Almost Random Inquiry from an economist." In it, he threw down a comics-making challenge.
Joe's an expert in the study of "industry clusters" -- as he described it in the email:
[Cluster theory is] basically the notion that businesses flourish and ideas happen faster and better in places where there's a geographic concentration of people and businesses interested in and doing the same kind of things -- think Hollywood for movies, or Detroit (once upon a time) for cars, and Wall Street for inventing diabolical and opaque ways of defrauding people and destroying the economy.... We're exploring alternative ideas for trying to communicate clusters in a simplified, non-technical way.... One idea we want to explore is some kind of graphic treatment, not unlike the narratives you do in CulturePulp.
So yeah, flash forward, and I spent a good chunk of last year working on an educational comic about economic theory.
Clusters and Your Economy: An Illustrated Introduction provides a quick 28-page overview of why industries tend to group in specific places -- finance in London, winemaking in California, Portland's "Silicon Forest" and coffee-roasting scene, high-end sports cars in Italy's "Motor Valley," and so on.
Boiling these ideas down into simple comics panels was a serious ability-stretch. I scripted, thumbnailed and lettered, in collaboration with Joe and Lotte Langkilde. Adrian J. Wallace did some of the best work of his career on the art. Bill Mudron provided colors.
If you're a media outlet and you want a review copy, drop me a line.