I have to admit that, when I heard that Margaret Atwood was writing her first graphic novel, I didn’t think this was how she would describe her protagonist: “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.” But that’s exactly the premise of Angel Catbird, her collaboration with artist Johnnie Christmas (Sheltered). Dark Horse Comics will publish the first of three all-ages graphic novels in fall 2016, working in tandem with the Canadian initiative Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives.
In the Dark Horse press release, publisher and president Mike Richardson said,
Margaret Atwood has created a bold and unforgettable new character, paying homage to both classic pulp heroes and traditional comic book origin stories. We’re proud to bring Margaret’s Angel Catbird here to Dark Horse, since it is exactly the kind of creator-owned graphic novel we are committed to publishing.
Acquiring editor Daniel Chabon added,
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.
I’m biased, having read The Handmaid’s Tale before any of Atwood’s other work, but I had assumed that her first foray into comics would be more along the lines of that dystopian classic; it’s so seminal that you can’t help but make that comparison with all of her subsequent work. But, just as Niall Alexander’s review of The Heart Goes Last demonstrates, we forget how many other stories Atwood has to tell. And anyway, she also has a story in Secret Loves of Geek Girls, an anthology also being published by Dark Horse in October 2016.