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How cartoons bring social awareness to plight of endangered species

Marvel's Savage Wolverine takes on the poaching of endangered species
Marvel's Savage Wolverine takes on the poaching of endangered species
Marvel Comics

OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve never really read a comic book in my life. There, I said it! I’m from the era of Archie, Veronica, and Jughead and I never got into the world of comics, other than the Sunday funnies.

Savage Wolverine - Edition 12
Marvel Comics

Don’t get me wrong. I do read a lot. I try to keep up with the times. I use Facebook every day. I've been known to tweet now and then. That’s how I heard of these Comicon’s I see all over the place. Friends travel to different cities to attend them. I have no idea, though, what the fascination is, I’ll be honest. Reminds me of the crazy days of Star Trek conventions, people dressing up like Spock and Capt. Kirk.

But then, along comes a comic book that peeks my interest. I spend my days as a full-time animal advocate/activist. Rescuing homeless pets, demonstrating at circuses, rodeos, and fairs, working at wild cat sanctuaries (yes, they become homeless, too), promoting a vegan diet to save billions of farm industry animals – that’s my gig.

Through the Facebook newsfeed, I heard about a new Marvel Savage Wolverine series that touches on the subject of endangered species. Right away, that got my attention. Since it’s penned by a former Animal Planet Hero of the Year, I figured it was time to lose my comic book virginity and delve into the comic book world.

Have comics ever changed! The first thing that struck me was the incredible artistic detail in each frame of the story. I could really see the subtle change of emotions in the eyes of the characters and animals on every page. It was almost as if each frame could be blown up as a piece of meaningful artwork to stand on its own.

The story resonated so much with me, since it captures the horror of butchering and poaching endangered species that’s going on in Africa and Asia today. To see this “savage” open his eyes to their suffering, to try to use his super power to avenge their deaths - well, it’s every activist’s dream come true!

It’s incredible how comic books seem to have transitioned from what I remember as “just for laughs” to now imparting awareness about grave social issues. Having a new medium to reach a new demographic, like this series does, will be a valuable tool in the animal advocate’s toolbox.

I guess it’s ironic that they’re called “comic” books. I was expecting to laugh, but was instead very moved emotionally. Watching the lone elephant walk off into the forest, cloaked in the darkness of night, hearing her thoughts, surrounded by all the lost souls who passed on before her – well, let’s just say I wasn’t expecting a comic book to bring tears to my eyes.

Kudos to writers Phil Jimenez and Scott Lope for finally bringing me into this new age of comic books. Sorry it took me so long to figure out what all the fuss was about.