High Water – NZ climate comic anthology

Scientists investigate how climate changes, politicians (should) decide what to do about it. Tough jobs. Artists have just as difficult a job: to comment on the reality and unreality they see in society’s responses to the climate threat, and by doing so motivate us to create a liveable future. In High Water, a new anthology of climate-inspired work by NZ comic artists, pulled together by Damon Keen and Faction Comics, that response ranges from the touching to the frightening, huge vistas seen through little frames — all presented in visually stunning stories drawn by NZ’s finest artists. The book kicks off with a superb little story by Dylan Horrocks, Dear Hinewai:


I’m a great fan of Dylan’s work1 — his latest, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is a real tour de force — and here he draws beautiful and bittersweet postcards from a future where New Zealanders are exploring a radically altered planet by airship2.

There is a lot of good stuff in High Water, but I have some personal favourites: Damon Keen’s The Lotus Eaters, which takes us on a trip from modern day Auckland through a grim future to the arcadia on the other side of our civilisation reminds me of the comics I grew up with (think Eagle), while Cory Mathis’ My Wife, The Mastodon looks at climate change through the eyes of ice age humans encountering neanderthals (and sabre tooth tigers). Chris Slane’s wonderful Dialogo di Galileo is a powerful poke at climate denial, with a great twist in the last frames.


There’s an introduction by Lucy Lawless, in which she hits the nail rather more effectively on the head than our Prime Minister:

These eleven incredible artists have not stinted in imagining the gravest outcomes of man-made climate change. Perhaps a visual warning will work better than a written one, that requires imagination from a recalcitrant mind. Gorgeous work!

She’s right, you know. We need all hands to the pumps if we’re going to deal with the inundation coming our way, and High Water is a most welcome contribution.

To see more images from the anthology, and to get more background on the inspiration behind it, see this interview with editor Damon Keen. High Water, featuring the work of Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing, Katie O’Neill, Cory Mathis, Christian Pearce, Ned Wedlock, Toby Morris, Damon Keen, Chris Slane, Ross Murray and Jonathan King is being launched this evening in Auckland. Best wishes to all who sail in her…

  1. That’s his image on the cover of The Aviator — see sidebar. []
  2. Great minds, etc etc… 😉 []

11 thoughts on “High Water – NZ climate comic anthology”

      1. Hmmmm… how specifically ‘my part’ is my part? And how many days make a ‘few’?

        But, taking this to be my home state generally, and a few to be severalish, I’d say – The Flinders Ranges, being Wilpena, Brachina, etc., and Arkaroola if you can get to it. (Quorn got 119mm in 24 hours earlier this week – blitzing their previous record total, so while the creeks may be charmingly full, creek crossings – and dirt roads – may be ‘interesting’!)

        That would take a few days in itself, so, closer to the capital; Kangaroo Island – Flinders Chase being the highlight. (Long) day trips from Adelaide – Deep Creek Conservation Park (and the Fleurieu generally, including the wind farms, of course! 😉 ), Caroona Creek CP. On the coasts, and involving various lengthy-ish commutes; Innes NP, Canunda NP, Coorong NP, Little Dip CP, and pretty-well the entire west coast of the Eyre Peninsula, going through to the Bight itself! (Hope you don’t have to look at BP’s exploration derricks one day!)

        That’ll do for starters! Feel free to tighten the location and duration parameters…

        1. Hi bill
          thanks for that – sorry I wasn’t able to get back but have been out of internet for the past week or so. Did get to the Flinders and the wind farms – good to see. And just in case andy is around – I spotted a few eagles as well 😉 – all live ones.
          We have a battle on exploratory mining back in NZ Coromandel as well – both on and off-shore so. Will be back over the ditch by the end of the month so work on art galleries over the last few days.

          1. ‘work on art galleries’; sounds intriguing!

            Ah, yes, mining companies and their (often inappropriate) exploration activities – there’s something I certainly have some experience of!

            Glad the eagles were hale and hearty.

            1. Went to see the John Wolseley “Heartlands and Headwaters” exhibition at the NGV today. 🙂 Amazing.
              Home tomorrow.

    1. Arrived here in the West Island yesterday! There’s some fantastic artwork in there, and the whole thing is beautifully produced. The cover is apt, as submergence seems to be the dominant theme…

      1. Yes we went to see his exhibition on the same theme in the NGV the other day. There was a short video of him explaining his work immersed in a small billabong and using the mud to outline a dead pelican. The symbolism of threatened wetlands and a warming climate. The resulting artwork was on display and simply outstanding and very powerful. Many, many, were there to see it – (next to the ANZAC exhibition), and loads of high school kids working from his work on their own compositions. It’s getting the message across, that’s so important, and every media and way we can is vital.

  1. For want of a better recent place to put this, and perhaps because it is a tragic-comic anthology (of engineered climate and science denial) in its own right: When you in recent times google “Global Warming” and hit the “news” option, one recurring reference sticks out like a very sore thumb:
    The Daily Caller posting rubbish created in the sleazy spin factories of the rabbit Republican right and dressed as “News” while it fact it is nothing news worthy but simply worthless propaganda.
    How come this ultra-fringe rag gets high rankings on Google’s ever so “smart” engine when somebody looks for the latest news? Wasn’t Google going to rank their results based on trustworthiness of its sources?
    Does The Daily Caller perhaps get high rankings based on the advertising volume on its pages which is most likely projected there by non-other than Google themselves? Wasn’t that the company that runs under the motto of “Don’t be evil”?

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