Angel Catbird's Furry Friends: Six More Comics for Animal Advocates

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<i>Angel Catbird</i>'s Furry Friends: Six More Comics for Animal Advocates

Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain’s sublimely goofy Angel Catbird is a throwback wonder to an era of unselfconscious creativity in superhero comics, complete with factoid cutaways to remind readers that it’s also a book with a purpose: the three-volume series is published by Dark Horse Books in tandem with Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives, an initiative led by Nature Canada—the oldest conservation charity in the country. Atwood has long been a lover of cats and birds (no word on her affinity for angels), and the inciting incident of Angel Catbird, before readers meet a cast that includes a feline Dracula, is a lesson in keeping domestic cats safely indoors and away from busy roads. Atwood and co. aren’t the first creators to use sequential art to speak on behalf of our furry friends, though. Check out the gallery above for six more comics that advocate for animal welfare between the panels.

A Piggy's Tale


Writer: Tod Emko
Artist: Ethan Young
Publisher: Bohemian Press

While the other books on this list are more devastating than the Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial, A Piggy's Tale is an all-ages superhero story designed to entertain while educating kids on the humane treatment of animals. Drawn by Eisner-nominated Nanjing creator Ethan Young and written by animal activist Tod Emko, A Piggy's Tale was created in partnership with Darwin Animal Doctors, and proceeds from the book and merchandise help fund the organization. The titular Piggy is a real-life pup (albeit one without superpowers…probably) who often makes appearances at conventions, to help "paw-sell" the book.

Dogs of War


Writer: Sheila Keenan
Artist: Nathan Fox
Publisher: Scholastic GRAPHIX

While the first two of three stories in this anthology present somewhat classic, almost romanticized depictions of the controversial role dogs serve in military action, it's the third, about a canine's role in rehabilitating a Vietnam veteran experiencing severe PTSD, that best speaks to the capacity for inter-species connections. Nathan Fox's severe, ink-throttled style expertly portrays the chaos of the battlefield from a four-legged perspective as writer Sheila Keenan reminds readers that humans aren't the only ones called to serve their country.

Laika


Writer/Artist: Nick Abadzis
Publisher: First Second

Old Yeller. Where the Red Fern Grows. Laika. From a stray on the streets to the first Earthling in space, Laika's real-life journey—including its conclusion—is well known, but that doesn't stop Nick Abadzis' gorgeously cartooned account from tugging at the heartstrings. Despite ostensibly being tartgeted for younger audiences, Abadzis doesn't shy away from the more difficult parts of Laika's story, or from the trials of the humans involved in launching her, however cruelly, into the history books. Consider this one a perfect cry-along for parents and children to share.

Liberator/ Critical Hit


Writer: Matt Miner
Artists: Javier Sanchez Aranda, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
Publisher: Black Mask Studios

If Angel Catbird is a Saturday morning cartoon, Liberator and its sequel, Critical Hit, are late-night premium cable. Written by real-life dog rescuer Matt Miner and drawn by Javier Sanchez Aranda and Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, these comics from publisher Black Mask are a revenge fantasy for animal lovers sick of the systemic abuse individuals and corporations heap on four-legged creatures. Whether the targets are dog fighters, fur farmers or "sport" hunters, the vigilantes in this series aren't afraid to get their hands dirty for the cause. Bonus commitment: a percentage of the profits go to animal rescue initiatives.

Pride of Baghdad


Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics

To be clear, Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon's fictionalized account of the real-life zoo animals let loose during the 2003 siege of Baghdad is by and large a metaphor for freedom and liberation, not a plea to rethink the way we treat animals in captivity. Regardless, it's a poignant reminder of the low value animal lives hold when the chips are down—and a tough read for any animal lover, from the infamous giraffe scene to the devastating, inevitable finale. Harambe may have bizarrely become enshrined in meme history, but he, much like the beasts of this Vertigo miniseries, proves how often animals pay the price for human mistakes.

WE3


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics

"GUD DOG. IS GUD DOG?" Fuck. Fuck. Grant Morrison has long contemplated the plight of animals in his work: Animal Man flirted briefly with being a "message" book before getting metaphysical and memorably concludes with Morrison's avatar discussing the fragility of life—animal and human—with protagonist Buddy Baker; and The Filth, for all its reality-bending insanity, is essentially about a man upset over his cat's death. For pure heart-wrench-per-page value, though, nothing tops WE3. From artist Frank Quitely's lost-pet flyer covers to Morrison's interpretation of animal dialogue, this tight three-issue "western manga" is absolutely vicious in charting human ambivalence to animal suffering—as well as the glimmer of hope from the more caring among us. Seriously though, fuck. Even looking at the covers brings a tear to the eye.