Graphic Novel Review — The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need

Pink, Daniel H., and Rob Ten Pas. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

Robert G. Weiner
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas, USA
rob.weiner@ttu.edu

 

In the world of higher education, the last 10 years have seen an explosion in the scholarly study of sequential art, sometimes dubbed comics studies. The present number of courses related to comics is probably triple what it was 20 years ago: courses from the freshman to the graduate level, courses in departments as varied as History, Sociology, Film, Gender and Race Studies, Communication, Art, Electronic Media, and Philosophy. The study of comics is where the study of films was 30 years ago. The rise in scholarly monographs has exploded, and there are numerous academic journals devoted to the subject with more popping up all the time. Comic studies, currently, is a popular topic for academics to discuss, teach, and write about.

Graphic novel textbooks are a unique way of presenting subject specific content. In our world of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, texting, gaming and on demand video, professors struggle to keep the attention of the millennial generation, who are used to being entertained and stimulated all the time. By creating a business management textbook in the sequential art format, University of Oklahoma professor, Jeremy Short, learned first-hand that graphic novel textbooks can convey information without dumbing down the content. His pioneering work, the Atlas Black series, has met with great success (Short, 2010). He found the use of graphic novels to teach specific content has been overwhelming positive: using them provided an alternative to the often dry and tedious world of traditional textbooks. Students in his courses learned more and found Short’s courses enriching (Short, 2013 a&b).

Daniel Pink’s The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need is one of those graphic novels that could very well be used like a traditional textbook. Pink is a famous business guru and author of New York Times bestsellers To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others (2012) and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (2009). Pink’s reputation as a business motivational leader continues to rise; he has been named one of the top fifteen business thinkers in the world ( Thinkers 50). Working with artist Rob Ten Pas, Pink wrote the very first American business book done in the style of Japanese manga (Johnny Bunko) and the first graphic novel ever to be on Business Week’s bestsellers, according to his website – http://www.danpink.com/about/.

The main character, Johnny Bunko, is an overstressed, overworked, and unhappy worker in the accounting department for a large business firm. While eating at a sushi restaurant, he picks up several pairs of magical chopsticks, which when snapped together summon Diana, an elfish business sprite. Whenever Johnny or his colleagues are in trouble, Diana appears with sage business principles. Diana imparts the six major ideas, briefly summarized here, to Johnny and his co-workers:

  1. There is no plan. No matter how much one plans for the future, the world of work is continually evolving with certain industries dying and new ones being born all the time. One has to be adaptable.
  2. Think strengths not weaknesses! Focus on what you do well and don’t let your shortcomings get in the way of doing the best job you can.
  3. It’s not about you! In the working world you are more successful by thinking of others first. In this way, you will also advance your career.
  4. Persistence trumps talent! It’s important to continually practice and hone your skills. Get good at something by doing it.
  5. Make excellent mistakes! It’s ok to make a mistake as no one is ever perfect, but use those mistakes to your advantage.
  6. Leave an imprint! You can make a positive difference in the world and leave a legacy in whatever you do.

Johnny Bunko is a graphic novel that can be enjoyed by all ages. Its ideas are timeless for those just starting out in the working world or those who have been out there for years. The Johnny Bunko characters are amusing and fun, and the artwork by Pas is delightful. Pink writes in a crisp style that delivers sound content. This graphic novel would be an excellent choice as a textbook for various freshman classes including business, seminars, education, management, or even communications courses. It is the type of graphic novel that could convey more through the sequential art format than many traditional textbooks. For college freshman who often feel lost when first entering college and who really have no clue as to what they want to do with their lives, Johnny Bunko provides a useful career tool in a form that should keep their interest. Academic libraries of all types should consider this volume for purchases. Pink and Pas have created a work which is a useful pedagogical instrument for professors and teaching assistants everywhere.

 

Works Cited

Pink, Daniel H. “About Daniel Pink.” Danpink.com. 2013. Web 16 December 2013. http://www.danpink.com/about/

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009. Print.

Short, Jeremy, Talya Bauer, and David J. Ketchen. Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed. Nyack, New York: Flat World Knowledge, Inc., 2010. Print.

Short, Jeremy, David Ketchen and Jeff Shelstad.  “Graphic N-extbooks: A Journey Beyond Traditional Textbooks.”  Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: Essays on the Educational Power of Sequential Art. Eds. Carrye Kay Syma and Robert G. Weiner.  Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2013a.  200-218. Print.

Short, Jeremy, Brandon Randolph-Seng, and Aaron F. McKinney. “Graphic presentation: An empirical examination of the graphic novel approach to communicate business concepts” Business Communication Quarterly  76:3 (2013b):  273-303. Print.

Thinkers 50. “The Thinkers50 Ranking 2013”Thinkers50.com. 2013. Web 7 February 2014.

 

 

Author Bio:

Robert G. Weiner is Associate Humanities Librarian at Texas Tech University. His most recent co-edited book is Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: Essays on the Educational Power of Sequential Art.

 

Reference Citation:

MLA:
Weiner, R. Rev. of The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Pink, Daniel H. & Pas, Rob Ten. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 1.1 (2014). Graphic novel.

APA:

Weiner, R. (2014). Review of the graphic novel, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, 2008, by Pink, Daniel H. & Pas, Rob Ten. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 1(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/issue-1/graphic-novel-review-the-adventures-of-johnny-bunko-the-last-career-guide-youll-ever-need/

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