Comics by Alex Hallatt used with permission. Courtesy of King Features Syndicate.
The Arctic Circle comic strip is a rare blend. On one hand, it's a story of cute migratory penguins who have adventures with their mammalian pals at the North Pole. On the other, it carries a definite ecological message replete with disdain for those willing to sell out the environment for a buck. An overt message will usually sink a piece of artwork or comedy that doesn't hide its themes in the subtext. Arctic Circle, however, pulls this tricky combination off. In short, the comic strip is funny. Alex Hallatt: Creator of Arctic Circle, the Eco-Friendly Comic Strip
The penguins in this strip migrated from the Antarctic to the North Pole. The strip's creator, Alex Hallatt, made almost the opposite journey. Alex was born in the jolly old land of England, but she moved to New Zealand and ultimately ended up in Australia. Alex, a degreed biochemist and former New Jersey table waitress, began cartooning full time in 1999 after seven years in clinical research. Her breakthrough gig was in the Brighton newspaper, and, after that, we were literally seeing her in the funny pages.
Environmentally Conscious Penguins Anyone?
Unlike the penguins of the Gary Larson era, the three aquatic aves who inhabit this comic are easily distinguishable, each with their own "featherstyle" and contemporary personality. The flightless fowl pal around with a polar bear, a lemming and a snow hare, and they often find themselves at odds with a ruthless, money-hungry tern. When terns go bad, they go real bad.
Changing With the Modern Climate
Arctic Circle has a very hip and modern feel to it. The polar creatures use Bluetooth technology, own laptops and reference video game consoles. Long gone are anachronistic, timeworn gags. You'll find no gigantic, red meat-laden Dagwood sandwiches or eyebrow-raising Andy Capp-and-wife-fisticuffs jokes. Instead, you'll find references to many contemporary concerns: Climate change, consumerism, plastic bags, vegetarianism and cloned chicken meat.
Environmental Messages Encapsulated in the Funny Pages
An overt environmental, social, political or religious message can often be unwelcome in comedy. Those who disagree with or dislike the message can wind up alienated, and those who are in the choir may find the message redundant or may just tire of the constant preaching. Arctic Circle manages to walk that razor's edge and be topical and eco-savvy without being preachy.
The environmental concerns become a part of the world in which the characters inhabit. If a character is preachy, it is due to the character's personality and not because the creator is trying to ham-fistedly slip her opinion into the strip. Hallatt merely filled a world with ecologically aware penguins and snow hares and let loose those characters to speak for themselves.
A Green Christmas in A White Environment
This year the snowbound critters are celebrating a white Christmas in a green way. It's probably good to be near the North Pole. That's where Santa lives. What manner of yuletide antics will these glacial-dwelling, comicbound creatures get involved with? You'll have to read the strip to find out.
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