Comics on cli­mate

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS ETHERIDGE

KIWI comic book artists con­cerned over sea level rises, su­per storms and cli­mate change have put pen to pa­per to bring it to the public’s at­ten­tion.

Ac­claimed artists in­clud­ing Dy­lan Hor­rocks, Sarah Laing and Chris Slane vol­un­teered their work for graphic novel an­thol­ogy High Wa­ter.

The in­tro­duc­tion is writ­ten by actress and ac­tivist Lucy Law­less.

Edi­tor Da­mon Keen says the book is a way into the highly volatile de­bate for New Zealand’s comic com­mu­nity.

‘‘We’ve had 25 years of sci­en­tists talk­ing, politi­cians kind of ig­nor­ing them and I feel like it’s time for the rest of us to step up,’’ he says.

‘‘Ev­ery­where you look there’s cli­mate change, be­cause we have got to that point where it is crit­i­cal.’’

Cli­mate change ex­perts pre­dict a one-me­tre sea level rise by the end of the cen­tury. But sci­en­tists have warned the ac­tual fig­ure could be as high as four me­tres.

Sea lev­els have been ris­ing by about 1.6 mil­lime­tres each year over the past cen­tury. That fig­ure has lifted to 3.2mm over the past two decades and the In­ter­na­tional Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) ex­pects it to to rise to 10mm an­nu­ally by 2100.

The artists are con­cerned about what fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will be left with, Keen says.

‘‘A lot of them are par­ents as well and it’s hard not to, if you are think­ing about the is­sue, be quite con­cerned about how we ap­proach it with our chil­dren and how you should be deal­ing with it.

‘‘There is that com­mon theme of artists be­ing so­cially aware to some de­gree, just due to the na­ture of the work you do. So I cer­tainly had no prob­lem con­vinc­ing them to get in­volved,’’ he says.

‘‘A lot of them were very ex­cited to get in­volved ... You want to feel like you’re con­tribut­ing and do­ing some­thing about the is­sue that bugs you in the back of your mind even if we feel so pow­er­less.’’

Keen says the group knows the is­sue will not change overnight.

‘‘We’re all like pyg­mies, shoot­ing tiny darts at a huge ele­phant of a prob­lem,’’ he says. ‘‘And hope­fully the darts ac­cu­mu­late enough to bring it down even­tu­ally.

‘‘We go into it aware that we’ve got to do our part as a tribe. We rep­re­sent a com­mu­nity of com­mu­ni­ca­tors and it’s our job to do that.’’

The West­mere res­i­dent and his edit­ing part­ner Aimee Maxwell say comics can be a way to ed­u­cate and add an­other voice to the global dis­cus­sion.

The sto­ries go from be­ing set 40,000 years ago dur­ing the Ice Age, to what Earth could look like mil­lions of years in the fu­ture.

‘‘In so many ways it has been politi­cised even though it’s ac­tu­ally a sci­en­tific is­sue,’’ Keen says.

‘‘I’ve been a bit


I guess, about how slowly so­ci­ety’s moved on this is­sue and it’s hard not to get caught up in that cyn­i­cism and de­pres­sion and feel pow­er­less.

‘‘But what struck us about work­ing on a project like this is it’s ex­cit­ing. You don’t have to feel pow­er­less. You don’t have to do much but if we all start talk­ing about it that would be a great start.’’

The artists know they are en­ter­ing an arena which can be heated but Keen says adding their voices to the cli­mate change de­bate is im­por­tant.

‘‘It would be great if this was a way for peo­ple to ex­plore the is­sue or think about it who haven’t been able to ap­proach or have found the is­sue in­ac­ces­si­ble. But also hope it’s a way for peo­ple who may find a way to ap­proach comics as well,’’ Keen says.

‘‘If you’ve got this tal­ent, th­ese skills, this gift – what­ever you call it – then us­ing it for some­thing par­tic­u­larly mean­ing­ful, pow­er­ful and an em­pow­er­ing thing, I think it’s just what they do.’’

High Wa­ter was re­leased at Kelly Tarl­ton’s Sea Life Aquar­ium in Auck­land on April 16.

Graphic nov­el­ist Da­mon Keen and 10 other artists have col­lab­o­rated on High Wa­ter, fo­cus­ing on cli­mate change.

A scene from one of the 11 sto­ries fea­tured in High Wa­ter.

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