Comics that support social causes are one of my favorite things. Combine comics for a cause with Animal Cruelty Prevention Month, which takes place each April, and you have publishers raising funds to support U.S. animal rescue organizations and awareness about the plight of abused and neglected animals. As an animal lover, I believe raising awareness this April about how comic book fans can use the medium to save fur babies’ lives is important.
“Our (mostly) silent global roommates add vibrance, variety, and wonder to the world, and we’re always looking for ways to put them in the spotlight,” Magnetic Press said in a press release announcing the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for its latest graphic novel, My Friend Toby by triple-Eisner Award-nominee Grégory Panaccione.
Released to support the aims of Animal Cruelty Prevention Month, My Friend Toby is a 144-page, feature-length hardcover graphic novel that follows Toby, an average, energetic Terrier living in a small seaside village with his artist friend, Marcel. Once upon a time, Toby was a stray, but he’s been Marcel’s best friend since the artist took him in. However, when Toby’s best friend can no longer pay the bills during a broken-hearted rough patch, the duo’s future grows uncertain. It’s beyond the terrier’s comprehension, but a carefree Toby gives life all the fun and meaning a loyal pet can provide.
Told largely from Toby’s canine perspective (meaning the graphic novel has no dialogue), readers will be treated to a peek between the ears of Man’s Best Friend, dealing with such critical topics as strange cats, new neighbors, car rides, territory disputes, thunderstorms, being left alone, puppy memories, and oh, so much more.
“I was coming out of years of working in the cartoon industry, and while I learned a lot, I had accumulated a lot of creative frustration,” the creator said about his first graphic novel in an interview with Magnetic Press. “This story was a way for me to let off steam: the life of a dog and his master, which is far from the marketing or commercial mindset that wore me out during my experience with the small screen.”
In addition to the book, supporters can pick up various book bundles featuring Panaccione’s Eisner-nominated A Sea of Love as well as many of Magnetic Press’s other celebrated books about animals, wildlife, and anti-cruelty. Each order will include an exclusive orange “Animal Ally” Anti-Cruelty awareness ribbon, with additional campaign-exclusive bonuses offered with different bundle pairings. For example, the “Cats & Dogs Bundle” includes a copy of Love: The Mastiff by multiple-Eisner Award-nominees Frederic Brremaud and Federico Bertolucci and CATS CATS CATS, a collection of hilarious cat cartoons by Lapuss and Philippe Larbier, along with a bonus 3” foam rubber ball for your favorite fur buddy to enjoy.
“We’ve been passionate animal allies since long before launching Magnetic Press nine years ago,” says Magnetic Press’s Publisher, Mike Kennedy. “There’s a reason we have so many animal-centric titles in our library. Any opportunity to help the Anti-Cruelty Society is a good one. We adopted our cat, Lando, from ACS, and we want to help them find homes for many, many more loving housemates this month.”
Independent of the funds raised on Kickstarter, Magnetic Press will donate to the Anti-Cruelty Society commensurate to the campaign’s success. Founded in 1899, The Anti-Cruelty Society is dedicated to placing homeless animals with caring families while fighting instances of animal cruelty. Other online actions are planned throughout the month to help raise awareness of this precious effort to assist animals in need.
The limited pre-order campaign for My Friend Toby will run for 18 days on Kickstarter, ending Friday, April 14th at 5 pm CST. Books are expected to ship to supporters and bookstores in July 2023.