Just in time for Christmas, Karl Marx is finding a new audience among Japanese comic book fans.
The manga edition of his masterpiece, Das Kapital, hit Japanese bookstores this month and sold about 6,000 copies in its first few days, said Yusuke Maruo of EastPress Co.
"I think people are looking to Marx for answers to the problems with the capitalist society," Maruo said. "Obviously, the recent global crisis suggests that the system isn't working properly."
Maruo said he hoped the comic version would provide an enjoyable introduction to the German socialist's original work, written in 1867. The targeted readers are office workers in their 30s. Christmas and New Years are a prime time for publishers, as many people have vacations and more time to read.
The cover sheet of a manga edition of Karl Marx's Das Kapital (AP)
The fictionalized Vol. 1 of Das Kapital chronicles a cheese factory run by protagonist Robin, who rebels against his father's socialist principles and becomes a slave driver after teaming up with a cold-blooded capitalist investor. But Robin struggles between his capitalist ambitions and his sense of guilt over the exploitation of his workers.
Maruo said the comic Das Kapital had been planned earlier this year after a revival hit of the 1929 communist novel The Crab Factory Ship, which portrays a ship's crew forced into harsh labor under a sadistic captain.
The book is being translated into English, Korean and Chinese for its upcoming manga debut in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Comic editions of the subsequent volumes are also under way.
Manga, a name used for Japanese-syle comic books, often combine complex stories with drawing styles that differ from their Western superhero counterparts, particularly in their frequent emphasis on cuteness.