This comic hero has no fixed form and gender. He may be the strongest superhero of all time – at least the longest-lived. Because it is indestructible and always appears in a new form. We are talking about money that was offered to homo sapiens early on.
With the advent of animal husbandry and agriculture around 12,000 years ago, the first barter transactions arose. Already in the late Bronze Age around 1000 BC. The first currencies were made from jewelery or shells, for example, until the introduction of metal working made so-called tool money or bar money common. Coins were first used in China and India, in Lydia the gold stater became the dominant means of payment.
Military conflicts also caused coins to prevail, because soldiers had to be paid after all. In Lydia, King Croesus, who is still prominent today, went against the Persians and lost. Persian coins were minted from its gold and became the dominant currency in the Mediterranean.
The draftsman Vitali Konstantinov (“The Sandman”), born in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa in 1963 and living in Germany since the mid-1990s, tells in “All the Money in the World” (Gerstenberg, 88 S., 26 €) the history of money in the form of a non-fiction comic aimed primarily at children and young people, but which is also entertaining and instructive for adult readers.
With the support of the numismatist and economic historian Sebastian Steinbach, the comic author has created a travel guide that takes you around the world and depicts the complex subject in large hidden object pictures in a light-footed manner.
Experience with entertaining knowledge transfer
On a positive note, the artist does not prioritize any culture, instead approaching his subject with examples from remote parts of the world. In a relaxed, episodic narrative style, he shows how money is still capable of surprising metamorphoses. Most recently with the first digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, which appeared in 2009.
Already in the previous volume “It is written: From cuneiform to emoji”, which was nominated for the German Youth Literature Prize, Konstantinov combined similar knowledge transfer with an entertaining form.
He usually draws his slightly grotesquely exaggerated, strongly typed figures in black and white, but small areas are often highlighted in colour, with yellow tones for coins and green often for paper money.
On almost every page another facet of the subject is treated, such as the criminal dimensions of money. This results in funny episodes when, for example, Mary Butterworth accidentally irons a bank note with the laundry in 1716 and gets the idea of counterfeiting money.
And even more complex phenomena such as “crises and bubbles” are vividly condensed into short comic episodes based on historical events.
The economist and passionate card player John Law advised the French regent Philippe II at the beginning of the 19th century and suggested that Mississippi shares from the American colony be printed. Since the swamps there did not yield enough mineral resources, the bubble burst very soon. Just one of many financial bubbles to date. The understanding of Dax and Dow Jones should be (almost) a bed of roses for young and old after reading it.