Standing Around With Wolves.
So yesterday, I wound up touring a Wolf Rescue Compound. Right? Already this seems cool. Even Pony looks happy about it, in the artwork.
The night before, I was having dinner at Fish Gaucho. I was excited about this because the last time I was in Paso, it was under construction. The name captured my imagination and mugged it, creating a new character for our little strip, named Fish Gaucho. Because, if you look back…she’s both a gaucho, and a fish. Anyway, it was a big deal to eat there, and it was good.
Our charming young waiter took some time explaining this project that he was involved in, and gave an invitation to “tour the compound.” The project was a not for profit Wolf Rescue Facility. Wolves are losing population rapidly, something that a good deal of humans don’t realize. The gray wolf was once one of the world’s most widely distributed mammals, living throughout the northern hemisphere north of 15°N latitude in North America and 12°N in India. However, deliberate human persecution has reduced the species’ range to about one third, due to livestock predation and fear over attacks on humans. The species is now extinct in much of Western Europe, in Mexico and much of the USA. Now you know.
Even with such a relatively large world population, the Gray Wolf isn’t “out of the woods” as it were. Wolf population declines have been arrested since the 1970s, and have fostered recolonization and reintroduction in parts of its former range, due to legal protection, changes in land-use and rural human population shifts to cities. Competition with humans for livestock and game species, concerns over the danger posed by wolves to people, and habitat fragmentation pose a continued threat to the species.
With that in mind, the not for profit in Paso Robles, called WHAR Wolf Rescue, does their best to provide homes and shelter for these animals when they are in trouble. Some of them were actually pets where that is allowed, some were show animals, others just abandoned. The family owned and operated compound provides medical care, rehabilitation of injuries, and lifelong shelter for the animals in their care. In addition, there is a huge amount of space for them, despite being contained on the compound.
Going out there, the GPS straight up lied to me. After getting a little lost, there was a free tour. The animals are pretty huge. Seriously, there was one Arctic Wolf that I could probably ride, if the animal were okay with that, which it is NOT. Some of the wolves are “ambassadors”, which means that in a supervised fashion, you can actually get in the enclosure with the wolves and actually interact with them. That’s pretty cool, and I also really appreciated the constant attention to safety that was observed the whole time.
It was a random trip, that lasted over an hour after arriving, and I found myself uncharacteristically quiet. It was pretty touching to see that a group of people made it their mission, with no profit at all, to improve the quality of life for such interesting, and ultimately beautiful, creatures.
I wanted to do art that presented wolves in a positive light, so hence the Elfquest reference above. The tribe of elves in Elfquest is called the Wolfriders, and they have meaningful relationships with their Wolfen mounts, each characters in their own right. Elfquest is a pretty unique fantasy comic, very much operating in its own creative environment, unlike much of fantasy comics. Cutter, the arguable protagonist, is depicted above, although the book has an ensemble cast.
About a month ago, I got the “Complete Elfquest, Volume 1,” and have been thoroughly enjoying rereading the series. If it seems like you might enjoy a book of high fantasy, at a very reasonable price, you can buy the phone book thick Volume 1 by clicking here.
Oddly, a lot of the time when I wear some of my own “Adequacy” gear, people will see our own protagonist, and ask me “is that an Elfquest thing?” This confuses me a whole lot, since the visual style of the book is VERY different than mine, and rarely is there an element of fantasy in our humble strip. Granted, there is the common theme of having pointy ears, but things end there.
Also, if you’d like to help out with a donation to save the North American Gray Wolf in Paso Robles, click here. I’m pretty sure that donation will be appreciated.
Finally…I did a rare thing. I edited yesterday’s post, “Rascals Never Die,” for content as opposed to typos. I always get to the typos late. The first edit was with the cover/poster art. This version doesn’t have the odd left to right darkening effect that was bugging me when I looked at it online. Instead, the brightness is similar to the other images, which works better, in my opinion. It was an odd way of being picky, especially given that all of the art was happening in cramped, odd places.
Secondly, I removed page five. Mostly because that’s a punch line, visually, that I’ve fed at more than once, and it wasn’t really new material. Laying upside down on a couch or an easy chair at the end of a trip, looking mildly sick…been there, done that. Seriously, I’ve done that more than once…call backs are one thing, but maybe it was time for a new gag. On reflection, I felt that page four was a better endpoint, and it was still a massive post.
In case anyone noticed, was wondering, or cared. In addition to being the artist and writer, I also get to be the editor.
I DO like the idea that she might sleep in that fancy suit, or parts of it. It sort of goes with the idea of her generally rumpled and casual appearance. I simply came up with a better way to do that whole thing, without recycling material that’s been done before. We will be seeing that alter in the week. Yay!
So there’s my long, rambly Cesar Chavez Day post. Not about Cesar Chavez at all sadly, but instead about endangered wolves, Elfquest, and editorial choices about pants.