Dark Horse to Publish Atwood’s “Angel Catbird” for Fall 2016

by BK Munn
So this is a thing now. Novelist Margaret Atwood is writing a series of three young-adult graphic novels chronicling the adventures of mutagenic superhero Angel Catbird. The first volume, illustrated by cartoonist Johnnie Christmas, will be released by U.S. publisher Dark Horse Comics for Fall 2016.
The ever-punctilious Atwood explained the book’s premise using a semicolon. “Due to some spilled genetic Super-Splicer, our hero got tangled up with both a cat and an owl; hence his fur and feathers, and his identity problems,” she writes in a press release from the publisher.
The animal-loving, science-fiction writing, poetry-prize-winning icon is planning the book to run tandem with a campaign for Nature Canada called “Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives,” which I imagine is a media blitz to convince people to keep their cats indoors. (As much as I love my own feline companions, I acknowledge they are an invasive species on this continent, if not this planet. Maybe the comic will address this? Not known. Insufficient data.)
Judging from the promotional cover image, the book looks set to have a contemporary action comics graphics veneer. Vancouver resident Christmas has been carving out a name for himself as the artist and co-creator, along with writer Ed Brisson, behind the Image series Sheltered. Most recently he has taken on the art chores for Image’s Pisces (the latter a collaboration with writer Kurtis Wiebe) and contributes “Firebug” to Brandon Graham’s Island sci-fi anthology. Christmas has some serious dynamic chops.
Again according to the press release, the partnership came about when editor Hope Nicholson hooked Atwood up with Dark Horse after Atwood contributed some pages to Nicholson’s Secret Lives of Geek Girls Kickstarter-funded anthology. “I wanted to find an artist whose style Margaret liked, and who I felt comfortable working with and who shared the vision for the project. Johnnie Christmas is, by all accounts, a perfect fit,” she writes.
For it’s part, the charity mentioned posts on its own website the cat/bird campaign will launch in Spring 2016 and “celebrate the contributions cats and birds make to our lives, our environment, and our communities, and invite Canadians to consider what they can do to make Canada a safer place for both cats and birds.”