The Beast: Making a Living On a Dying Planet
Writer: Hugh D. A. Goldring
Artist: Nicole Marie Burton
Editor: Patrick McCurdy
Publisher: Ad Astra Comix
Review by Josh Rose
My dad texted me one day saying “I caught the end of an interview about this comic and thought you might enjoy it… Maybe you can do a review?” And here we are. The article my dad sent me was the epilogue written by an indigenous man from Calgary, Canada, Terrance Houle. When I read it, I knew I needed to read the rest of The Beast: Making a Living On a Dying Planet. This is a book that is very Canada-centric and not out of any sense of patriotism. Rather, the purpose is to engage readers in a discussion about the Oil Sand Industry that is at the forefront of the Canadian political scene, yet treated like your racist grandfather sitting in the corner of the room muttering to himself. It is both there, very important, yet ignored.
The Beast follows two Cape Bretoners (for our international readers, Cape Breton is an island on the east coast of Canada) as they navigate the political arena surrounding the Oil Sands in Alberta. We have Callum, a freelance photographer, and his roommate Mary, who works in advertising. They have a healthy respect for each other, and often work on opposite sides of the same issue: The Oil Sands and Climate Change. Both care deeply about Climate Change, but where they differ is when it comes to their priorities. Callum really wants to save the planet, but NGO’s aren’t willing to actually pay him to cover his expenses. Mary also cares about the environment, but she needs to be able to take care of herself and pay the rent.
The Oil Sands are a complicated discussion no matter what. Hugh Goldring does a great job showing both sides of the argument, but leaves it open to the reader to come to their own conclusions. Relationships are complex, not only between the roommates, but also between them and their jobs. It’s not a clean story. There is no happy ending, but you do feel a sense of peace that things will get better.
Nicole Marie Burton’s art is a simple, cartoonish style. It didn’t particularly grab me, and sometimes the positioning of the hands or even bodies as a whole compared to the rest of the panel felt awkward. There were a few panels where I felt the art could have been drawn better to show who was talking. The Beast is completely black and white, but some colour really could have added to the whole story and given clarity to some panels.
The Verdict: Check it out.
The Beast: Making a Living On a Dying Planet is very much politically charged, so, if you want your comics with superheroes beating each other up without any messages, you’d best skip this. If you want a book that will make you think and lead to some honest discussions, then this is the book for you.
The Beast: Making a Living On a Dying Planet is available for purchase here.