If youre in the business of judging graphic novels by their covers, Angel Catbird is exactly what it sounds like: a story about a part-cat, part-bird superhero who looks like an angel. What you probably wouldnt guess about Angel Catbird is that its the latest politically-minded story from legendary novelist Margaret Atwood.
Yes, the author of The Handmaids Tale is bringing her talents to the world of illustrated stories. Drawn by artist Johnnie Christmas, Angel Catbird hits comic book shops on Sept. 9 and—in case you need a little more info on the books weird titular hybrid—is about a man whose genes get spliced with those of a feline and an owl and becomes a superhero who can thus see both sides of the complex cat/bird relationship, Atwood says, adding that the book is also an effort to raise awareness about endangered bird populations.
I was comfortable with comics as a form—I grew up in that culture, have drawn comics myself, and am a visual thinker. But unfortunately the Angel Catbird pictures I produced were lumpy and primitive—I wasnt good at pecs and abs, or even proper wings.Margaret Atwood
“Angel Catbird was flying around in my head for years,” Atwood says. “I was comfortable with comics as a form—I grew up in that culture, have drawn comics myself, and am a visual thinker. But unfortunately the Angel Catbird pictures I produced were lumpy and primitive—I wasnt good at pecs and abs, or even proper wings.”
Fortunately for Atwood, the pecs/abs/wings combo is being provided by Sheltered artist Christmas and colorist Tamra Bonvillain (Doom Patrol). Working with Margaret on her first graphic novel has been loads of fun, Christmas says. The mixing of advocacy with humor is a great way to get across the themes were shining a light on in Angel Catbird.
Surprisingly, the trio behind the graphic novel has never all been in the same place at the same time, but they will finally unite next week during Comic-Con International, where Atwood will be part of a panel on comics storytelling.
Our relation so far has been virtual, but I hope to meet them at SDCC soon, Atwood says. Ive been before, but this time maybe I will have moveable cat ears. Or a tail. Or something.
Check out a trailer for the new graphic novel above and some images from the book below.