August 25, 2018

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Graphic Nonfiction: Andy Warner on the Difficulty of Changing Minds About Climate Change

Welcome to another edition of Graphic Nonfiction, where we take a look at a creator's use of visual storytelling to explore the real world. Today's edition returns to the "gold standard" of nonfiction comics creators, Andy Warner. While Andy often works with The Nib these days, this example comes from Knowable Magazine. The theme is on the trouble with trying to convince people about climate change, but in some ways, it also looks at how polarized our feelings are in general.

Here's the link to the comic itself, showing Andy's ability to use visuals to express his points, while still putting together a lot of textural information, too. What's interesting to me is that this time out, Andy goes for a more comedic approach than I'm used to, as we'll see in these examples below.

The first visual is typical of Warner's style, using a graphic image to display that the differences between left and right on climate change are as drastic as a drought and flood. It gets the reader thinking, and allows him to move into denser, more text-based sections where he interviews experts:


After showing their thoughts and rather striking pull quotes from John McCain and Mitt Romney during their campaigns (contrasted with Trump's flat-out denial of climate change), Andy does one of the illustrations he's best at--a chart that's both visually interesting and full of facts, one of several in this article:


The little floating CO2s really add to this one, especially since they lead the reader's eye to the dramatic fluctuations. Additionally, Warner makes sure they don't all look alike, something others might not think about when putting together their art for a piece like this. That's what I mean when I say that Andy is one of the best at doing graphic nonfiction.

While it's obvious from our own eyes and ears that the GOP is in the wrong on climate change, I like that Warner reminds us that it's not just Republicans who ignore science. Especially since this picture made me laugh out loud. This is typical of the humor Warner uses in his piece, and it's a bit more than I'm used to seeing from him. (Maybe he's spending too much time with Matt Bors!)


Bonus points on this being a nice reference to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

After further interview snippets, Warner hits on the one thing that might change the equation of climate change denial: Money. He also points out that the evidence of our own eyes may also help, pointing out alliances like the one illustrated below:


Here Warner brings together multiple elements of his illustration style: A bit of text, a helpful map, and iconic imagery of the political parties (another theme in this piece, artistically).

In the end, Warner proposes that this--the practical effects of climate change--might be what helps us all to make the world better for us to live in. The unanswered question--at least here--is, "Are we too late?"

I love Warner's work and it's great to see him tackle a subject like this one that plays to his in-depth research and visual strengths. I encourage you to read the entire article here.