Dark Horse Comics consistently impresses me with its vision: quirky, offbeat, and distinctive. I’m thinking of ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT by James Stokoe, which starts in April. I’m also fondly recalling Chuck Palahniuk’s FIGHT CLUB 2. And I’m definitely thinking about Margaret Atwood’s latest work with Dark Horse, ANGEL CATBIRD VOLUME 2: TO CASTLE CATULA.
ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2 is a follow-up to best-selling novelist Margaret Atwood’s debut graphic novel. For fans of the legendary writer, this latest adventure is welcome news. And for anyone who enjoys a riveting adventure, suitable for all ages, this book is for you. The story follows genetic engineer Strig Feleedus, also known as Angel Catbird, and his band of half-cats heading to Castle Catula to seek allies as the war between cats and rats escalates.
Page from ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2
As pure comics goodness, here you have the storytelling power of Margaret Atwood (the Man Booker Award-winning author of The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Hag-Seed), complimented by artist Johnnie Christmas (Sheltered), and colorist Tamra Bonvillain (Doom Patrol). This is a fun and wild ride with plenty of food of thought. We need more of these kind of compelling and gentle comics. Thankfully, we can rely upon Dark Horse to deliver. And, in times like these, we can certainly use an inspiring story with a lively environmental theme.
Angel Catbird is being 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 Canada. Angel Catbird is the latest environmentally charged book by Atwood, who was recently given a lifetime award by the National Book Critic Circle and also named the recipient of the 2016 PEN Pinter Prize for her political and environmental activism. All three volumes of Angel Catbird are 6 x 9 full color hardcovers, priced at $14.99 each. Volume 2 features an introduction by acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson and goes on sale on February 14, followed by Volume 3 on July 4, 2017. Angel Catbird Volume 1 has spent more than a dozen weeks on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list.
ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2, with a forward by G. Willow Wilson, is available as of February 14th. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.
You’ve seen TED talks on YouTube, right? You can always go right to the source at TED.com. If you’re unfamiliar, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TED began in 1984 as a conference that today covers just about any topic. These are powerful short form talks in more than 100 languages.
Considering the “Greater Than” theme
Have you ever gone to a TED event? Well, there are a number of these around the world. I went to an independently run TEDx event here in Seattle. You can discover more about TEDx Seattle right here. With a zeal to learn and a trusty notepad, Jen and I took in a day of TED talks. For fans of TED talks, you can imagine how cool that is!
KCTS, a proud sponsor of TEDx Seattle
This is the first year for TEDx Seattle, formerly known at TEDx Rainier. This last Saturday, we settled into our seats at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center and were utterly delighted with each presentation: from Ranae Holland, a biologist-turned-reality TV star on the hunt for Bigfoot all the way to Suzanne Simard, a forestry expert advocating for all us to address climate change.
The theme for this event was “Greater Than,” an umbrella concept that reinforces our sense of community which is greater than the sum of its parts. The talks were further divided into sessions: curiosity > assumptions; future > today; together > alone; and > sum of the parts.
We had stopped by Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Pine and overheard a couple of young women. One said to the other: “And you can spend your whole life in public service, like Hillary, and still lose to a man!” That’s a good sense of what clings to the air and will remain in the air for years to come. So, heading to our TEDx event seemed like quite a fitting place to be: a place to try to make sense of the rifts and the shifts we are currently experiencing.
I was curious about how each talk would act as a thread to a larger conversation. Can we answer the big question, How do we all come together? Celeste Headlee, a longtime host at National Public Radio, made the case in her talk that we are far more isolated than we may realize. The healing won’t take root, said Headlee, until we respect each other and form authentic bonds. That struck a positive and constructive chord that reverberated throughout the conference.
Scott Wyatt talks about urban density.
As the day progressed, Jen and I got really caught up in the talks. In fact, there were so many ideas presented that it is a bit overwhelming to attempt to recap everything and do it justice. I will focus on just a few with some brief comments. Scott Wyatt, a partner at architecture firm NBBJ, hit the nail on the head regarding the critical mass we have reached as a crowded city. Part of the solution is to adapt and that is what Wyatt covered. With more and more of us shoulder to shoulder, it compels us to find ways to live in harmony.
Another compelling talk was on artificial intelligence presented by Oren Etzioni, an entrepreneur and AI researcher. His main point was that the robots are not coming for us and never will. No, it’s quite the other way around. It is up to us to embrace the new tech as it is ultimately there for us and to help us come together.
Eliaichi Kimaro. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain.
Eliaichi Kimaro presented an outstanding talk on her journey of self-discovery. Given the opportunity and the motivation, Kimaro found herself making her first documentary without any prior filmmaking experience. She set out to tell the stories of her ancestors in Tanzania. What she came back with were stories that would summon deep reserves for healing and transformation. Her wish for all of us is that we flood the world with our stories. You can visit the website for Kimaro’s film, “A Lot Like You,” right here.
We also greatly enjoyed the talk by Judge Wesley Saint Clair who has some impressive ideas on providing options for youth who find themselves in criminal court. No, he said, this is not a Hug a Thug program. Instead, it is a no-nonsense program that provides these youth with an opportunity to become part of the community. It was a moving talk and the judge deserves all the support he can get.
We ended the day on a high note with Suzanne Simard, a professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia. Her talk covered the intricate and complex nature of ecosystems. Simard made clear that climate change is very real. Ultimately, we all must come together, as Simard stated, not only for our sake but for the sake of our planet Earth.
In these uncertain times, we can always count on brave and thoughtful people to speak the truth.
It’s pretty simple, we need a healthy planet in order to sustain healthy life all around. Take our oceans, they seem vast and mighty but they’re also vulnerable. As cartoonist and conservationist Jim Toomey points out, there’s a delicate ecosystem we need to protect. For example, consider forage fish. These little guys, such as herring, menhaden, and sardines, play an essential role as food for an array of sealife: sharks, whales, seabirds, tuna, seals, and sea lions. But, you guessed it, humans have managed to muck up the system.
And there is so much to say on marine topics! With Jim Toomey, the cartoonist for the popular comic strip, “Sherman’s Lagoon,” as your guide, you can learn a lot in only a few minutes. The Pew Charitable Trusts has joined forces with Jim Toomey to present a lively and fun look at our vital ocean life in “Cartoon Crash Course.” You can see all 10 new short films right here!
The Vital Role of Forage Fish
Watch these humorous cartoons and come away with a better, and more animated, understanding of what it means to take care of our oceans! Learn more and get involved by visiting our friends at The Pew Charitable Trusts right here.
The Girl in the Cafe and an Ionized Environment
Art and fiction by Henry Chamberlain
She sat at her regular table on the second floor of her favorite cafe. It was the same old crowd. It was a steamy summer day. She had the whole world before her. There was the Space Needle right out the window to keep her company. She made herself comfortable. She wiggled her toes. Someone was overheard saying, “An ionized environment really helps.”
“The Minimum Security Chronicles: Resistance to Ecocide” is full of whimsy and wisdom as it follows its characters on a journey to save the planet. It’s all up to a group of friends to figure out if they can smash the capitalist system or just give up and go shopping. What makes Stephanie McMillan’s comic strip such a page-turner is her ability to find the right mix of humor and intelligent discourse.
Stephanie McMillan’s sense of urgency and comedy is irresistible. She has placed a whole new generation with the burden of saving the planet but they’re pretty clueless. There’s Kranti and Bananabelle, who just barely know the struggles from the past. Kranti, an African-American, is quick to join a protest rally and yell, “By any means necessary!” And Bananabelle, intuitively, recognizes that won’t go over well with the “mainstream liberals.”
Then there’s Kranti’s brother, Nikko, and his lover, Javier. They are both at the mercy of the current economic tide. Nikko manages to just get by with his design work. Javier, has let things slip in pursuit of his art and relies on Nikko’s meager income. All four of these unlikely heroes will be stretched to their limits as they try to do the right thing.
Guidance and advice comes from Victoria, a theorist guinea pig; and Bunnista, a trigger-happy rabbit. Each of them, in their own way, have some wisdom to share but they are still working on the ultimate answers. Victoria is uncompromising in her ideals. Bunnista is too eager to blow things up.
As the story unfolds, we find ourselves exploring the available options to make this a better world: everything from community gardening to murder is on the table. What is really compelling about this comic strip is just how far it is willing to go. If Kranti and Bananabelle didn’t appreciate what was meant when someone said, “By any means necessary,” they certainly do by the end of this tale.
One of McMillan’s goals with this particular story is to raise awareness of how corporations are raping the environment, specifically with bio-engineering. She is seeking answers. And the one thing she keeps returning to is the unequivocal need to rid ourselves of global capitalism. But, at every turn, she shows us how futile that effort appears to be. The great contradiction is that we have no choice but to fight the system, a fight that may appear to be too big to win. All life on the planet hangs in the balance. The only sure thing is that we must persist, live to fight another day. It’s a cliffhanger to the story of life that we must all live with.
And just how do you end capitalism? Well, that is an ongoing discussion. This current comics collection makes that clear. The subject is too vital and complex to address in just one book. For instance, McMillan has a guide to the people’s struggle, “Capitalism Must Die,” that will soon come out. For now, “The Minimum Security Chronicles: Resistance to Ecocide” provides an educational and entertaining look at what happens when people must confront the system.
“The Minimum Security Chronicles: Resistance to Ecocide” is published by Seven Stories Press. This book is a 160-page trade paperback priced at $12.71 and is set for release on October 8, 2013. Be sure to visit our friends at Seven Stories Press here.
That amusing Spock vs. Spock ad for Audi, with Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto competing with each other, led me to the Audi Connect ads.
I think the spokesperson for these Audi Connect ads is a very charming young woman. She can appeal to a wide audience. And the car, from what we see of it, looks pretty cool. But what exactly is the focus here? So, Audi Connect is supposed to be a jaw-dropping leap into the future? Well, far be it from me to completely dismiss something that sort of makes driving safer. Sort of. It is less of an investment of your attention to talk to your car than to navigate your phone.
But, for all the bells and whistles, the scenario in this ad finds the young woman looking for a gas station after her mom has prompted her. Gasoline? In this day and age? Why not have this forward thinking consumer in an electric car already? Well, let’s give Audi a lot of credit for working towards that. They’ll get there. But first, they just wanted to focus on the most luxurious method to find your way to a gas station on your way to Los Encinos Park.
Audi used the A3 wagon to test its electric power train, in what could be its first production e-car (Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)
Check out details on Audi’s development of its own e-cars, HERE.
We here at Comics Grinder appreciate creative promotions and this one is at the top of our list: a very unique light show over London to celebrate “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” in theaters May 17, 2013, as well as honor Earth Hour. What is Earth Hour? Well, that is the World Wildlife Fund‘s annual observance to help generate awareness of conservation. As the WWF website states:
WWF’s Earth Hour is a unique annual phenomenon that focuses the world’s attention on our amazing planet, and how we need to protect it. At 8.30pm on 23 March hundreds of millions of people will turn off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the world in a huge, symbolic show of support.
Here is a press release about the magical Earth Hour event, March 23, 2013:
Star Trek Into Darkness
As the UK prepared to go ‘into darkness’ for WWF’s Earth Hour held in the UK this evening, Paramount Pictures is pleased to announce its support with a special ‘Star Trek’ themed light display.
This amazing light show by Paramount, in conjunction with Ars Electonica Futurelab & Ascending Technologies, saw quadrocopters fly into the night sky, forming the Star Trek federation logo beside Tower Bridge on a scale never seen before.
The event coincided with WWF’s Earth Hour at 8:30 pm. Along with key landmarks such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and The London Eye going dark, the quadrocopters turned off their glow in support of Earth Hour. To signal the end of Earth Hour at 9:30 pm the quadrocopters reformed the Star Trek logo above London’s skyline.
About WWF: WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organizations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. We’re working to create solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature can thrive. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, tacking climate change and changing the way we live. Find out more about our work, past and present at www.wwf.org.uk Last year over 7 million people in the UK took part in WWF’s Earth Hour. This unique global phenomenon encourages every corner of the globe to switch off for one hour and includes iconic landmarks such as The Houses of Parliament, the Sydney Opera House and the Taj Mahal.
It seems like only yesterday (well, 2006) that many of us were feeling full of regret over what could have been as presented in the enthralling documentary by director Chris Paine, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” And now, only a blink of an eye later (2011), we have an amazing answer in Mr. Paine’s follow-up, “Revenge of the Electric Car.” Oh, these are exciting times we live in! Yes, you better believe it, the future is now. We really do have electric cars. We’re at the early stages, but, as the film makes clear, there is no turning back. It’s history in the making and this time we’re getting it right.
Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Neil sets the tone in the opening segment as he ogles various sports cars he spots on a drive through LA. He recalls, wistfully, his love of fast cars. Everything about them was beautiful. “The only problem was the gasoline in the tank.” By measures humorous and contemplative, this documentary navigates through the maze of facts and comes out with a fully charged story centering on four main characters. 2006’s “Who Killed The Electric Car” made the case for how the electric car was scuttled before it had a chance at the dawn of car development. Then, to make matters worse, when GM recently developed a viable electric car, the EV1 (1996 – 2002), it chose to recall it and scrap it. This “sequel” picks up where the original film left off as GM re-enters the electric car market in 2008. But they have forfeited their head start. There are new players and it’s going to be a heated race.
The narrative is quite compelling as it hangs on four men coming from four very different directions. Each is given a title, and appropriate background music, as we enter their world. First, we meet “Mr. Detroit,” who is none other than the macho showman, Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM. This guy is such a legend in the business, having led various auto giants throughout his career, that he already has his own nickname, “Mr. Horsepower.” You would be hard put not to like the man. While he may not exactly believe in global warming, he has come to see the reality of electric cars. This epiphany has been spurred on by “Rocket Man,” Elon Musk, who made is fortune as the creator of PayPal. He now divides his time between Tesla Motors, his own rocket company, SpaceX and a new wife and five children. You almost see his head spin as the story unfolds. We see him struggle with his first entry in the e-car market, the Tesla Roadster, a ultra high-end car that is so expensive to create that Mr. Musk must go back to buyers still waiting on their orders and tell them that the price tag has gone up. We then do a zippy segue to “The Outsider,” Greg “Gadget” Abbott, an e-car converter. He is in the business of retrofitting old cars and turning them into e-car hotrods. He is caught at a difficult time with some unfortunate mishaps but remains optimistic. His portrait gives us a sense of the grassroots enthusiasm for e-cars.
Full of dramatic effect, we’re introduced to “The Warrior.” This is Renault-Nissan’s Chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn. The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Neil likens Mr. Ghosn to Sun Tzu, author of the classic in military strategy, “The Art of War.” The Ghosn strategy, according to Mr. Neil, is taken from this book and is, “Be where your enemy isn’t.” It is a game plan enacted with a vengeance with a commitment of 6 billion dollars behind it. “Every day that our competition delays is a good day for us,” Mr. Ghosn states with gusto at a news conference. His approach is full on: A purely electric car, with a 100 mile range, priced for the widest market. Unlike Tesla Motors, and its Roadster (prior to the Model S) priced at $100,000 and up; and unlike GM’s Chevrolet Volt, which has a backup gasoline engine, the Nissan Leaf is purely electric and priced right at about $30,000. Mr. Ghosn, with such a determined spirit about him, is undeniably in the driver’s seat. At the time this documentary was made, Mr. Lutz and Mr. Musk seem oblivious to him. Even towards the end, when the two men literally bump into each other at a major car show, they seem puzzled by the Nissan Leaf and its significance. It is fascinating to watch.
While it will still take some time before electric cars are the norm, the process has begun. All humanity, the Earth and all polar bears can breathe a sigh of relief. This documentary is essential viewing for all of us as we embark on a whole new way of life. Paced like a dramatic story, with narration by Tim Robbins, and full of insights by various auto industry insiders, you can’t help but get caught up in the narrative and root for the true hero in all this, the electric car. For more information, visit www.revengeoftheelectriccar.com.