cover image Birds of Maine

Birds of Maine

Michael DeForge. Drawn & Quarterly, $34.95 (464p) ISBN 978-1-77046-566-4

Abandoning a human-degraded Earth for the Moon, birds—in their full taxonomic breadth—establish a utopian colony free of war, pollution, and byzantine financial instruments, yet bounded by eccentric conventions of its own, in this addictive collection of the Ignatz-winning webcomic by the singular DeForge (Leaving Richard’s Valley). Details of lunar bird society accumulate in wry single-page installments, largely following one family. Ginni, an adolescent cardinal with a thwarted passion for clothing design, spends her days practicing with her band and checking out hot guy-birds. Her mother Chloe, a cowbird, is a historian (her fascination with Terran economics confounds others), while Ginni’s owl father, Magnus, manages the library’s IT. Libraries are central to bird culture, housing repositories of historical texts (pecked onto sticks) and recorded birdsong, providing access to a fungal internet, and hosting orgies. Universal basic food supply (worm based) and chess tournaments figure in, too. DeForge’s nimble avian portraits demonstrate specimens simple and strange, gap-toothed evolutions of the elegant geometry of Charley Harper’s commercial illustrations. Deforge follows his birds with curiosity rather than seeking allegory, as he lets each fanciful wrinkle of the premise play out. It’s a knotty, whimsical triumph of often hilarious satire, in good company with George Saunders’s work. (Aug.)