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Comic artists tackle climate change

Comic artists tackle climate change

Climate change graphic novel launches under the sea!

New Zealand comic artists have launched a new comic anthology called High Water – the first of its kind in the world to tackle the subject of climate change.

The 96 page, full-colour hardback book features the previously unpublished works of 11 New Zealand artists, including Sarah Laing (A Fall Of Light), Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville, The Magic Pen) and Chris Slane (A Nice Day For A War), as well as an introduction by Lucy Lawless (Xena, Battlestar Galactica, Spartacus).

Auckland will go on with or without us by Lei Wen

Worldwide, comic books have begun shaking off some of their old stigmas and have expanded beyond the world of men in tights. Editors Amie Maxwell and Damon Keen believe that the time is right, not only for comics to be taken more seriously, but as a way of using storytelling to educate people.

“Scientists have been trying to communicate this issue for years, with limited success, so it can’t do any harm to let artists have a go. I think communicating the issue visually provides a really punchy way to get the message across.“

Contributor and political cartoonist, Chris Slane agrees. “As an editorial cartoonist, often caught up in short-term news cycles, High Water was a great opportunity to express my own perspective on one of the most important long-term issues of this century,” he said.

Another contributor, novelist Sarah Laing, was motivated to get involved because of her concern for her childrens’ future. “I thought this was a great project to get behind - climate change is a major crisis that our politicians are ignoring in favour of economic growth. I feel bad on behalf of my children, knowing that environmental conditions are going to get more extreme, and will ultimately effect economic growth far more negatively than if we act now.”

High Water isn’t heavy-handed, though,” Maxwell is quick to add. “I think it’s a lot of fun, and there’s a tremendous range of stories in there. The mandate for the artists, aside from not being climate change deniers, was to do something different, and that didn’t bang the reader over the head too much.”

And as an added twist, they have decided to launch their book At Kelly Tarltons.
“When the tide is in, the water is actually lapping at the windows,” Maxwell says. “I don’t think we could ask for a better venue to help focus the mind!”

“It’s only appropriate that a book like this is launched under water,” Keen adds.

High Water is very much a passion project. None of the contributing artists or editors are paid, and Maxwell and Keen distribute the book themselves. Keen is optimistic that they will recoup costs through the sale of printed copies and they plan to pass on some of the proceeds to a local climate change group.

The launch event is supported by Kelly Tartons and Peter Yealand Wines. The book was partly funded by Creative New Zealand and will be available at comic stores around New Zealand and at


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