cover image Not a Place to Visit

Not a Place to Visit

T Edward Bak. Floating World, $12 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-942801-76-4

Bak (Wild Man—The Natural History of Georg Wilhelm Steller) delivers a sensitive, colored pencil–lined portrait of Western America’s delicate ecological systems in this series of short comics. He wonders about his own culpability in the breakdown of the environment: he grew up comfortably near Denver, thanks to his family working in the petroleum industry. He details how fracking pollutes water and causes earthquakes, and how building dams on the Columbia River disrupted centuries’ worth of Native American culture and industry, as well as harmed the river’s salmon population. Bak recalls his time spent as a porter on a paddlewheel river cruise ship, part of the tourism industry that has damaged the Columbia’s ecosystem. On a trip to explore California’s Salton Sea, Bak and fellow cartoonist Julia Wertz search for mud volcanoes and observe the devastation wrought by man-induced flooding. While he reveals that he hopes his comics might have a positive effect on the world, Wertz notes that she just wants others to feel less alone. Bak’s scratchy pencil drawings, with distinctive use of color, feel intimate and complement his subdued but passionate narrative voice. This quiet but inspiring dispatch will resonate with those who feel the urgency of environmental activism. (Apr.)