Clarice Tudor’s climate-focused comic series depicts Boris Johnson as a Fat Cat in battle with Mother Earth
Continuing with her belief that people “are more willing to listen to whinging if it’s funny whinging,” Clarice Tudor’s latest series takes on the climate crisis.
- Lucy Bourton
- 9 November 2021
“I wanted this series of comic strips to playfully take aim at government inaction and unregulated big business. What better way to illustrate this than with a painfully on-the-nose Fat Cat™?” It’s a question only Clarice Tudor could pose. Her latest collection of comics is created for Lakes International Comic Festival’s (LICAF) 10 Years To Save The World project – which invites five UK and five Philippines-based comic artists to explore the climate crisis – and sees Clarice’s so-called Fat Cat as a plump little representation of Boris Johnson’s unique “brand of corruption disguised as incompetence”. His opposition? The Earth. A “good-natured and generous provider” who consistently comes up against the ignorance of a cat in a tie. “I’m sure every woman on Earth finds that feeling weirdly relatable,” adds the illustrator, “not just Mother Nature…”
Clarice’s comics have often utilised humour to make difficult subjects more comfortable and comprehensible. But with the subject of climate change, even she was able to see “how easy it could be to get sucked into drawing a doom-laden sad story,” she tells It’s Nice That. However Clarice’s series for LICAF sticks to her belief that audiences “are more willing to listen to whinging if it’s funny whinging”. In fact, it’s a quality of the comics medium she likes most; the way it can take “an awful, hideous issue and break it down into something simple and humorous, something easy to look at,” she adds. “Which is a key problem with the climate crisis, it’s not being looked at, it’s being ignored.”
Each of the comics are designed from a body of research on the climate crisis, but in particular which issues relate most to young people. “The research pointed towards there being too much of a focus on personal responsibility (which can feel futile at times) and not enough emphasis on the people in power,” Clarice explains. Therefore each comic sees Fat Cat burning through the Earth’s resources via their poorly informed, selfish decisions. Take the strip titled Resources as an example. Kind and caring Earth opens up its resources to be shared, only for Fat Cat to demand “everything you have”, or its decision to avoid a burning Earth by morphing itself into a one-person-only rocket in another strip. “I agreed that the intentional ignorance of the government colludes in big business’ harmful practices,” the illustrator continues. “So I laid the main focus there.”
However, personal responsibility is still a necessary consideration when we consider the climate crisis at large. “The narrative of ‘oh no, big companies are the real problem so I should sit back and do nothing’ is irritating too,” justifies the illustrator. In turn, Clarice balances these approaches across her comics, like putting forward her belief in boycotting: “In the Sustainable Tuna comic strip, I wanted to encourage readers to use some critical thought when it comes to these prolific greenwashing campaigns,” she explains. “I think we should poke those with the power to enact change whether that be through boycotting, protest or hand-drawn fat cat memes.”
Alongside creating the series for LICAF, Clarice has also been taking part in workshops and panels run by the festival. As well as herself, there are further contributions by other “billionaire-bashing artists like myself” to keep an eye out for too. “What I love about this project is that they didn’t try to censor or water us down at all.”
And while the message is strong, Clarice’s signature sweet style is still prevalent across each strip. “I can’t help but draw cute characters,” she adds. “When I posted the first comic, someone commented ‘noooo business cat is too cute I empathise with them too much and now I’m afraid I’m going to start defending the 1 per cent,” Clarice recalls. “I was like, ‘Grimes? Is that you?’. Anyway, cute and funny is my USP in both art and life (yes, I’m single, who’s asking?).”
Keep up to date with the wider 10 Years To Save The World project here.
Response & Responsibility – Cop26
During the next two weeks, over 120 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow to agree on the actions needed to pull the earth back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. The most important conference of our lifetime, in response, we are exploring creative responses to the climate crisis throughout the duration of Cop26.
Clarice Tudor: Rocket for 10 Years To Save The World (Copyright © Clarice Tudor, 2021)
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.