Ramey’s (Saving Sam, 2012) graphic novel takes a look at the ways that humanity is devastating the planet and the frightening prospect of humanity’s extinction.
By 2150, mankind has vanished from the face of the Earth, according to the book’s insect narrator, who begins his story by detailing how his kind has adapted and survived for 400 million years. Homo sapiens were around for a mere fraction of that time, but they began negatively affecting the environment by the start of the Industrial Revolution. Greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation were catastrophic, leading to pollution, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and drought—and as resources gradually waned, the human population increased. Many animals became extinct or endangered, and insects were targeted by pesticides, though they continued to thrive. As the book’s arthropod guide explains, the superior human brain produced essential scientific developments, but it was also the reason why humans formed societies and sustained a wide range of beliefs. As a result, they inevitably turned against one another, due to clashing which led, in turn, to violent conflict. Ramey tackles the subject matter academically, with straightforward text backed up by quoted material from an extensive bibliography. His stark, black-and-white artwork offers realistic renderings of both humans and animals. There are a few instances of humor, predominantly involving the anthropomorphized narrator, which dons spectacles and occasionally crosses its two front legs. But the book’s harrowing message is grave and abundantly clear; regarding climate change deniers, for example, the narrator deems it “curious that they persistently talked about making things better for their grandchildren while taking action that contributed to their certain destruction.” The author wisely blankets mankind’s denouement in ambiguity, instead focusing on the barren aftermath: an Earth filled with junk—and perseverant insects.
A potent, educational work whose simple presentation doesn’t weaken its message.