‘Quibbles & Quark’: Pecking order from chaos  

Click on the image to see the first Q&Q episode.

Cartoons, comics, funnies, graphic novels – all of these are sequential art: images and stories that unfold together. Unlike a painting on the wall or a sculpture in the garden, it moves and flows and invites the reader to see more. It can be serious or satirical, it can make you laugh, cry, shrug or yawn.

“Quibbles & Quark” grew out of observation of animals and Mother Nature, something that is not difficult in Rappahannock County – mixed, of course, with human nature. It morphed from an earlier project that grew out of a fascination I’d developed for . . . watching my chickens! They are – literally – the bottom of the pecking order. The foxes would come along and eat them, along with local dogs, possums – almost any omnivore who came within sniffing distance.

Yet they reminded me of . . . us. Aren’t we too on the bottom of the pecking order? Why no, you say. But think about this: We may not be dinner for a fox but we are very often prey – prey to the media, prey to our culture and our peers. In other words, I find humans take themselves ever so seriously, and when we can chuckle at ourselves for being such good prey – to ideas, or worse – maybe we’ll be more open to other ideas! So, no matter which peace sign you follow, I hope you can enjoy the art and the ideas.

I didn’t always appreciate comics. Having been through art school in Colorado and Italy, I went to live in Paris for further studies in oil painting. In France, I would pass the bookstores and, in the section for the bandes dessinees (comics), there were lots of people, most of them male, going through the latest a Suivre (literally, “to be continued”).

And there I developed an appreciation of the medium; it was art, it was literature. And I had come to Paris to smell oil paint and turpentine, to have grubby fingernails and drink absinthe.

The world history of comics (or graphic novels) is complicated, as are the theories of why things went soft for a while in America while the genre gathered steam in Europe. Nowadays, however, graphic novels are said to be the fastest-growing genre of American literature.

“Quibbles & Quark” – to be continued – will offer visits from a French Canadian terrorist goose, foxes purveying news and kamikaze squirrels. (Can they outrun your car, and if so, should they really be rewarded with mandatory health insurance?) Stay tuned.

Kelly Atlas-Bauche (kellybauche@gmail.com) lives in Castleton and is at work on “The Bullet Taker,” a graphic novel. You might also see her sketching in a Rappahannock County courtroom.