I’m unsure of what exactly about Angel Catbird drew my attention when I picked it up from the discount table at the local Barnes & Noble. I guess the cover art was appealing, the concept struck me as unique, and it was only $5 (plus I had a gift card and a coupon). Written by Margaret Atwood – Yes, that Margaret Atwood of The Handmaiden’s Tale among others – this origin story of Angel Catbird and his half-cat friends (and love interest) is a quick paced read. Often silly and painfully pun-filled, the best part of the graphic novel for me was the introduction from Atwood.
I admit I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of Atwood’s previous works, so I knew very little about her as an author. Her intro is very personable and recounts her memories and experiences in the early days of comic publishing. As a child she drew comics and was obsessed with balloons and cats – both in short supply due to the war. Time passed, and both materialized into her life – she found balloons disappointing but cats a pleasure (I’m not a cat person) and had cats as pets most of her life.
As an adult, Atwood became more immersed into the world of bird conservation (yes, please) and felt guilty about how her outdoor cats were causing bird populations to decline. (I totally trap my neighbor’s cats and return them to their doorstep.) Her conservation and creativeness collided and with the help of artist Johnnie Christmas and colorist Tamra Bonvillain, Angel Catbird came to be. The graphic novel features statistics and info about keeping cats safe and in non-free-range conditions where they won’t murder birds – sometimes as footnotes and other times directly in the dialog. Yes, it comes across as cheesy.
Angel Catbird is Margaret Atwood’s contribution to a couple of her personal conservation causes – and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just a weird story, with decent art, that I’m glad I only paid $5 for on a whim.