Waaaaaaaay back in September 2016, we wrote about Angel Catbird – Margaret Atwod’s Comics Debut. We admitted that this new series took us a bit by surprise, and that not all of us were as up on our Atwood as we should have been. Obviously, we were quickly shown the light:
Confession time! This is my first time reading anything by Margaret Atwood. There has been considerable buzz for this title for several weeks and despite it falling into my remit; it did initially slip under my radar. However, Atwood won me over pretty much immediately before I’d even started reading the actual comic with her amazing introduction. It’s an unfortunate thing that there’s still some people in the literary world who look down on comic books and think they have no place being ranked alongside regular prose. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to see someone so respected in the literary community openly geek out over their love of comic books of all kinds, from her childhood up to the present. It would be difficult for any comic fan not to find a kindred spirit in Atwood after reading her appreciation of all things superhero, classic humour comics like Pogo and modern classics such as Maus and Persepolis.
We also worried that the part-cat, part-bird superhero would look a bit like a failed science project (again, we were proven wrong!):
Art-wise, the team of artist Johnnie Christmas and colourist Tamra Bonvillain do a stellar job. To be honest, when I first read the name Angel Catbird, the first thing I thought of was ManBearPig from South Park and I was expecting an angel-cat-owl combo to be a genetic monstrosity. Therefore, it was quite the surprise to see just how elegant Angel Catbird’s design was and indeed all the other human-cat combos.
Fast forward to mid-2017, and Atwood is consistently in the limelight. Her iconic book, The Handmaid’s Tale, has been adapted for TV and, unfortunately, the much-publicised political situation in the USA is drawing more parallels to this dystopian fiction than one would generally like. Things are getting a bit too real… time to get back to the fun of Angel Catbird! Luckily, we have Volume 3: The Catbird Roars out now!
As the conclusion of the series, Angel Catbird Volume 3 brings even more drama, hilarity and cat puns than the previous volumes. As the Evil Rat Army aims to take over the world, only the half-cats stand in their way. Margaret Atwood is, as ever, on top form as a writer, seamlessly weaving together action and humour in the Golden Age style, but what really does it for me in this series is the artwork by Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain. The images they create have a fantastic sense of movement, and the facial expressions are a particular highlight. I also appreciate the generous dose of concept art and sketches published at the back of the book, providing an insider’s view on the creative process.
Then there’s the tongue-in-cheek foreword by the iconic Kelly Sue DeConnick. She calls it “more of a marketing aid than anything else” … but it actually provides us with great context on The Golden Age of Comics and Comics as Pedagogy, and DeConnick argues convincingly that Atwood has created a genre mash-up by combining the traditions of both.
On a side note – I also think the conservation elements of the series are very cool. Atwood, a lover of both cats and birds, has teamed up with Canadian organisation Cats and Birds to bring us information about how we can help to keep both safe. (With that said, I just can’t keep my moggie trapped indoors. Sorry! She’s a terrible hunter anyway, so only a few birds have died by her paw…)
Angel Catbird Volume 3: The Catbird Roars is available now!
9781506701707 h/b £12.50
Check out our previews of Angel Catbird Volumes 1 & 2: