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As comic books and young adult fiction have become more popular in the past decade, more and more writers of adult novels have dabbled in the both. One of the latest writers to try out comic books is award-winning Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Dark Horse Comics will publish Angel Catbird, a graphic novel written by Atwood and artist Johnnie Christmas (Sheltered) starting in 2016. The story, which will unfold over three all-ages graphic novels, centers on a superhero with animal-like abilities. The books will be published in cooperation with Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives, a conservation organization run by Nature Canada.
About Angel Catbird, Atwood said, “I have concocted a superhero who is part cat, part bird. 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.” Editor Daniel Chabon spelled out a bit of the feel and style of Angel Catbird. “What should you expect from Angel Catbird? Imagine, if you will, a strange mix of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s Animal Man, and Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s Squirrel Girl. Angel Catbird is a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired story. And the only other thing I can tell you at this early date is to expect a lot of cat puns.”
Atwood is best known for The Handmaid’s Tale, a 1985 dystopian novel about women under subservience. It won numerous awards and is a novel that is praised in both literary and science fiction circles. It was adapted in a movie of the same name in 1990. Overall, Atwood has been nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize five times, winning once for The Blind Assassin. She has also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction writing and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. She has written more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction.
Having a writer as respected as Atwood writing a graphic novel is a good thing for comics. On one hand, like when celebrities or actors write comics, there is a chance that fans of Atwood’s writing will follow her to graphic novels and then perhaps check out others. Likewise, if more talented writers like Atwood start composing compelling graphic novels, it can only be good for comics overall. Even though the premise isn’t immediately of interest to me, I might still read Angel Catbird to see what it’s like.
Each of the three volumes of Angel Catbird will be published as a 6 x 9–inch full-color trade paperbacks priced at $10.99. The first graphic novel will come out in fall 2016.