Thanksgiving dinner table etiquette advises we steer clear of politics, religion or old feuds. So let’s talk about something non-controversial: veganism.
More specifically, an activist comic book about veganism that’s titled Murder.
It’s co-created by Brittany and Matthew Loisel, who live in Salinas (Matthew writes it), and illustrated by Emiliano Correa and Jom Vega.
It’s set in an animal sanctuary in Prunedale run by a young couple, both people of color imbued with powers and part of a plan to free animals from the subjugation of humans – a plan seemingly devised by a cat. Oh, and the animals begin to communicate telepathically.
The first three issues begin with investigating clues and gathering evidence, with a big dose of superhero fight action at a cattle ranchers’ convention in Sacramento. The comic gives voice, character and emotions to animals, making them higher sentient beings to the reader. Matthew has been a vegan for a few years, but used to eat meat.
“I went vegetarian for health, I went vegan for environmental reasons, I stayed vegan for ethical reasons,” he says, citing worsening impacts on the climate crisis from animal agriculture.
He says the industrial animal ag system is unnatural, unhealthy and unequitable, but that Americans are ignorant of its tough realities. The comic book fills in those blanks with graphic imagery and scenes, balanced with moments of tenderness. Marcus, one of the sanctuary’s owners, befriends a baby chick that he’s rescued from being ground up in a hatchery.
Chick: “That was the ugliest raccoon I’ve ever seen.”
Marcus: “That was a cat, bud.”
Chick: “Cats are gross.”
Matthew worked in ag and studied farming at the nonprofit farming incubator ALBA in Salinas. He and Brittany were inspired to go vegan by the film Cowspiracy, and started Lazy Millennial Farms, California’s first certified veganic farm – a hybrid of organic (no synthetics) and vegan (no manure or animal meal). “People are eating less meat and more organics,” he says. “Veganic fertilizers will likely be the solution.”
Murder started as a way to introduce their farm to customers. They sold the farm, but kept the comic book going to promote veganism.
“I tried to write it in a not-preachy way,” he says. “Vegans have an awful reputation – some deserved, some not.”
It’s a confrontational work that asks us to look at how animals arrive on our plates, which seems relevant at a time in which we take stock and give thanks.