Thu
Nov 8 2012 6:00pm

License to Teach: The Plaid Avenger

The Plaid Avenger

For the adrenaline-drunk super-professor known as The Plaid Avenger, knowledge is his power…though certainly not judgment, or moderation, or, y’know…power. Avatar of real-life Virginia Tech don John Boyer, the Avenger crosses the globe for a good cocktail and an empty thrill and leaves geographical literacy and political reasoning in his wake.

Created to convey a sense of global citizenship through humor and graphic immediacy, the star of illustrated textbooks, comics, and the blogozone infiltrates climate-change hotspots and spirit-squashing dictatorships clad in the garish prints and louder attitudes of a bygone kind of planet-trotting alpha-male secret agent, which throws into high contrast the need for more nuanced pursuit of a healthy world.

The nature of a comic book, and the mismatch of personified characters to collective problems, is accentuated in the clumsy deus-ex-machina way the Avenger barges into real-life crises, while at the same time the remove and perspective of a reading experience, and the clarity of comics’ simplified expression, remind us how much a bit of distance could positively impact the international quagmires that those entrenched in them daily can’t always take time to see.

Still, the crossroads of technology and imagination opens more avenues of understanding and influence than ever (witness the tweeted revolutions of recent years), and so The Plaid Avenger is seeking to expand past the printed page to an interactive app, with a worthy Kickstarter crusade here. This time the mission is to transport Americans to their own border, to better grasp the U.S./Mexico drug war that threatens to make each civilization a casualty.

It’s bound to open eyes, and bring ideas to the global comments queue on every side—in his adventures, The Plaid Avenger gets as schooled as any of his readers, like the time he broke in to “rescue” Aung San Suu Kyi and was lectured on how people who believe in their cause need to make their stand in harm’s way. So, even for The Plaid Avenger, there are lessons to be gained—though, with many other crucial issues still to stumble into, hopefully he’ll never learn.


Adam McGovern’s dad taught comics to college classes and served as a project manager in the U.S. government’s UFO-investigating operation in the 1950s; the rest is made up. There is material proof, however, that Adam has written comicbooks for Image (The Next issue Project), Trip City.com, the acclaimed indie broadsheet POOD, and GG Studios, and blogs regularly at HiLoBrow.com and ComicCritique. He lectures on pop culture in forums like The NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium and interviewed time-traveling author Glen Gold at the back of his novel Sunnyside (and at this link). Adam proofreads graphic novels for First Second, has official dabblings in produced plays, recorded songs and published poetry, and is available for commitment ceremonies and intergalactic resistance movements.  His future self will be back to correct egregious typos and word substitutions in this bio any minute now. And then he’ll kill Hitler, he promises.

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