The Co-operative Revolution: A Graphic Novel

The Co-operative Movement’s history has been retold in the form of a graphic novel.

The Co-operative Movement’s history has been retold in the form of a graphic novel.

The Co-operative Revolution: A Graphic Novel follows the co-operative journey from the Rochdale Pioneers to an imagined co-operative future where co-operators are the first humans to land on Mars.

The book was created for the Co-operative Group and authored by cartoonist Polyp, also known as Paul Fitzgerald. Polyp draws cartoons for the co-op magazine, the New Internationalist and lives and works in an art/housing co-operative in Manchester.

He explained that he had always wanted to write a positive story of co-operation: “People seem to be constantly feeling that we’re in the middle of this crisis and trying to make the world a better place is pointless. There’s that pessimism that is ingrained into our culture and this is an attempt to go against that.”

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at the Co-operative Group and one of the editors of the novel, explained that they wanted to show the real story of the co-operative movement through this book. He explained that the pioneers “were genuine radicals in their communities, the equivalent of these would be the people sitting outside the cathedral of their day".

He added that the novel also gave them to chance to show the genuine achievements of the co-operative movement globally and present up to date scientific evidence to show how people how co-operation is “hardwired into them” on a basic biological level.

Examples of co-operatives used in the book include Barcelona Football Club and Co-op city in the Bronx, New York, one the world’s largest housing co-ops.

Polyp admitted that the book itself was co-operative effort with people helping to check scientific evidence, statistics and investigate rumours. The novel took around a year to complete, Polyp admitted: “By discovering how rich this history is, it has encouraged me and reinforced my belief in co-operation. That’s what we want it to do for other people.”

Paul Monaghan hopes communities will be able to use it to spread the work of co-operation: “Co-operators will have tools to engage their communities. What we really feel is that people who are advocates for co-operation will have the most fantastic tools they have ever had to energise their communities.”

The book will be included in delegate packs for the all the major political conferences and the publisher hopes to reach 5,000 Green schools linked with the Co-operative Group.

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