Art & Culture,  Nature

Wild About Webcomics

Those of us who care about nature and the environment are often viewed as a humourless bunch who are more likely to wag a finger about plastic straws than laugh at the absurdity of the world. Despite the difficulty in finding levity when there are such daunting challenges facing us, graphic artists are using webcomics to share humorous observations and reflections about the natural world. Here are some of my favourites.

Bird and Moon by Rosemary Mosco

One of the more well-established comics on the list (started in 2014), many of Mosco’s charming illustrations feature funny facts about birds or the struggles of bird-watching, but she also draws comics about climate change and the importance of collective action. Her comic about vultures is one of my all-time favourites, but regardless of the subject, her comics almost always make me laugh. 

A six panel comic strip with drawings of different birds. Each bird is identified with its name as corrected by autocorrect: 
Great potion
Bra bling
Pomading Jaegermeister
Autocorrect Birds by Bird and Moon

A Different Aftermath by Ursula Vernon

Vernon, who also writes as T. Kingfisher, is probably best known for her prose, but she works occasionally in graphic media. This story opens in a dystopian future but transitions to end on a hopeful note as it explores the resilience of both humans and our planet. 

A Different Aftermath by Ursula Vernon


Unlike the other webcomics on this list, xkcd focuses more on science than environmental or natural topics, but there’s no one more skilled at making jokes about the scientific process or using humour to explain complex topics from climate change to global atmospheric circulation.

A five panel comic strip. Two stick figures are walking outside at night. This is their dialogue:
So where is this spot?
It's just up ahead.
You know, fireflies didn't have to exist
The ocean has lots of bioluminescense, but it's less common on land. Creatures that glow are pretty rare here.
So it's not some niche whose exploitation was inevitable. If insects hadn't stumbled on their fatty acid enzyme trick, earth just wouldn't have fireflies. 
Ooh, look. they're starting.
I'm glad we got a planet that has these.
Yeah, it's a good one.
Fireflies by xkcd

The Mean Greens by Sarah Lazarovic

The Mean Greens was published in 2016, before the term ecoanxiety had gained mainstream momentum. A combination of webcomic and personal essay, it’s a great articulation of the impact of environmental grief and an exploration of what we can do to fight it. 

A page from The Mean Greens webcomic. The text reads:
One of my friends, a smart and caring environmentalist and naturalist, has wrestled with all this stuff for much longer than me. Her view is that it's unstoppable. But that's okay, because accepting the 6th extinction and human folly and the fact that we're screwed allowed her to fall in love with the earth. To appreciate every beautiful bit of it. 
"I'm in love with this planet," she tells me.

Along the bottom of the page is a five point scale. From left to right: 
pessimistic realist
toss up
socially responsible person who's just really busy
clueless hedonist
An arrow points to 'toss up' with the words "Me, most days."
Excerpt from The Mean Greens by Sarah Lazarovic

False Knees

Like Bird and Moon, False Knees focuses on the natural world as a basis for humour. And like Bird and Moon, it often makes me laugh out loud. Unlike the others on this list, False Knees creates their webcomics using pen and ink techniques that are then published online. 

A four panel comic strip about loons. In order, the text reads: 
The Mighty Loon!
Captain of the Water!
Champion of the Sky!
Goes on land sometimes!
The Mighty Loon by FalseKnees

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