The Saviors, seven animal advocates who made a difference

CRITICAL – The first graphic novel in Deman Editions chronicles the extraordinary – and sometimes tragic – fates of animal rights activists. Accessible and inspiring.

Natural disasters and summer heat waves have been cruel illustrations of the severity of the climate crisis. The global decline in biodiversity and the threat of a sixth mass extinction complete this distressing picture, which often generates a feeling of powerlessness. What could be done to help protect the most threatened or abused animals? Far from being discouraged, some decided to roll up their sleeves…

Published Wednesday, September 14th by Deman Editions, the comic book the Saviors draw a picture of “7 Heroes of the Animal Cause” of yesterday and today. Your common ground? They managed to significantly improve the living conditions of the creatures they chose to defend (sharks, great apes, zoo residents, farm animals…).

The case of Henry Spira is emblematic: this Belgian-American managed in 1980 to convince the cosmetics multinational Revlon to subsidize an alternative to the Draize test that “consists of injecting substances into the eyes of rabbits to measure the effects on humans”, before doing “bending giants like McDonald’s and KFC, forcing them to incorporate animal welfare into their specs.” The “Spira method” – respecting the opponent and encouraging him to change his behavior – is already being studied in universities.

Dian Fossey meeting Rwandan gorillas. Chhuy-ing Ia, Fabien Morin, Julien Derain & Laurent Hopman / Deman Editions

In their fight for the defense of animals, these “saviors” sometimes put their lives in danger. This is, for example, the case of Amir Khalil, an Egyptian war veterinarian who extracted the dying lion and bear from the Mosul zoo in 2017, when Daesh still controlled part of the city. The famous American Dian Fossey dedicated her life to gorillas before she was murdered in 1985 in Rwanda, aged 53, probably by poachers. As for Canadian Rob Stewart, he joined the Taiwanese mafia in their fight against shark fin trafficking. It is finally a diving accident that will have its skin in 2017. He was 37 years old.

It’s up to each of us to release our desire to change the world

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

The comic book, aimed at the general public, takes the opportunity to evoke the childhood of its characters and the trigger of their militant commitment. For Sébastien Arsac, co-founder with Brigitte Gothière of the association L214, which mainly denounces mistreatment in slaughterhouses, it will be the slaughter of a pig in the grandparents’ breeders. For Aurélien Brulé, the third French comic, killer of deforestation and defender of gibbons, awareness will come from preventing a Provencal hunter from killing his prey. This sense of history makes the Saviors engaging and approachable, even if it means romanticizing it a little. An effort supported by a readable, color-sparing design (a single shade per story, occasionally highlighted with orange) as well as a pleasing large format of 27.7 x 20.2 cm.

These inspiring portraits show that with determination, pragmatism and a healthy dose of courage, it is possible to save thousands of animals. What awakens new vocations? “It’s up to each of us to release our desire to change the world, says Yann Arthus-Bertrand in the preface. We have this duty and this mission.”

graphic novel cover The Saviors. ask edits

the Saviors, by Chhuy-ing Ia (drawing), Fabien Morin, Julien Derain and Laurent Hopman (screenplay), Deman Éditions, 152 pages, 21.50 euros.

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