Not if you're the Taxpayer's Alliance in the UK. And are complaining about the 400,000 print run for a new graphic novella created by the European Union and distributed free to individuals and schools across the continent. The bill naturally picked up by the taxpayer.
Hidden Disaster is a new BD album created by Erik Bongers,
The graphic novel follows the adventures of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) as it struggles to secure funding for the fictional state of Borduvia, which has been devastated by an earthquake.
Written and drawn by famed comic book creator Erik Bongers, Hidden Disaster tells the story of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office, as it gets involved with the fictitious European country Borduvia, hit by an earthquake and suffering a humanitarian crisis.
The book sees protagonisst Zana and Max, heroicazlly following official procedure for maximum efficiency in order to deal with the problem, both on the ground and in the Brussels offices, negotiating with bnoth government and rebel groups over aid. Which leads to gripping exchanges such as
Tesjang: So are there many people from the European Commission here?
Zana: No the aid is channelled through organisations like UNICEF or Oxfam. When the Commission finances them, they become what we call our 'implementing partners'.
And mission updates such as;
The Commissioner has already approved three million euros in fast track aid… She sees no problem in having a follow-up funding decision … provided the needs are clearly identified.
There's also romantic opportunity as Zana encounters rugged misogynist photographer Dave Clancey on their trip to a rebel camp, Dave asking "What's a European woman doing in a place like this?" Naturally Zana shows him – but waits until the aid is flowing before she begins the inevitable romantic liason…
The involvement in the group in Boruvia is very different to Haiti of course, where the EU have a billion dollars in aid but didn't actually visit the country and allowed the US to take control of the aid response.
The success of ECHO in Borduvia is in stark contrast to criticism levelled at the EU over its handling of the earthquake in Haiti to which it pledged £535 million. Baroness Ashton, the European Union's foreign minister, was widely criticised for failing to visit Haiti and allowing the US to take command of the international aid response. In the fictional world the Americans don't even get a look in. The book has been printed in English, French, German, Italian and Dutch and with Polish and Spanish translations expected.
And, predictably, the TaxPayers' Alliance kick off, chief executive Matthew Elliott saying "It is deeply immoral to use taxpayers' money to promote the EU to children" without realising that the priciple audience for BD albums in Europe is adults.
"This is pure political propaganda aimed at kids, which is a classic tactic of corrupt and unaccountable regimes down the ages. The EU seems to think it can buy itself popularity, but instead it simply makes itself look more out of touch and wasteful."
However the EU has been inundated with requests for copies since publication last week. And you know what? Seeing the pages below, I really fancy a copy too…
UPDATE: Order your copy for free, with free worldwide shipping, here.