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Comics/Graphic Novels

Comics for the Birds: They’ll Chirp You Up

Melody Schreiber

Staff Writer

Melody Schreiber is at work on a nonfiction anthology of premature birth. As a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C., she has reported from nearly every continent. Her articles, essays, and reviews have been published by The Washington Post, Wired, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, NPR, The Toast, Catapult, and others. She received her bachelor’s in English and linguistics at Georgetown University and her master’s in writing at the Johns Hopkins University. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @m_scribe.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it really is a bird!

We’ve talked about cat comics here before, but what about their eternal adversary: birds?

Panelteer Jess did such a good job in her Ducks of Disney post, it got me thinking about what other friendly fowl grace the pages of comics. The more I looked, the more fantastic graphic novels and superhero series I found featuring our feathered friends.

City BirdsCity Birds by Dean Norman

City Birds follows the life of two falcon hatchlings, named Stars and Stripes, as they hatch and grow up on the ledge of a skyscraper in Cleveland, Ohio. Their parents introduce them to this wide new world—from the humans, who are there to help protect their nest and their lives; to the lack of nutritional value in “fowl balls” from the nearby baseball stadium; and how and when to leave the nest. This is a cute, fun, heartwarming comic based on a true story—particularly perfect for bird lovers!


Conference of the BirdsThe Conference of the Birds by Peter Sís

All of the birds in the world unite under a hoopoe, who leads them on a journey to find their true king, Simorgh. Along the way, they pass through the valleys of quest, love, understanding, detachment, unity, amazement, and death. Not all of the birds survive the trip; those who remain are bound to one another, and they discover that they are Simorgh, and Simorgh is each of them. Based on the classic twelfth-century Sufi epic poem of the same name, The Conference of the Birds features gorgeous illustrations, poetic language, and a lovely message—making it a permanent fixture on my shelf.

Watchmen_HCWatchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

In Watchmen, Nite Owl is a pivotal character—or, to be more accurate, both men who don the owlish outfit and name are. Hollis Mason first earned the moniker by working out late at the police gym and keeping a strict bedtime. After Mason retired from his superheroics, Daniel Dreiberg asked if he could take up the feathery mantle. Dreiberg, an inventor, flies an owl-shaped airship, known (perhaps unsurprisingly) as the “Owlship”—which, among its many weapons, employs a piercing screech much like the bird’s call. Nite Owl even has his own eponymous title in the “Before Watchmen” series. You gotta hand it to a couple of guys who have the owl-like wisdom to model their antics after one of the coolest birds out there.

Black CanaryBlack Canary by Brenden Fletcher, Annie Wu, Pia Guerra, Lee Loughridge, Sandy Jarrell, and Steve Wands

Dinah—or “D.D.”—is the mysterious new frontwoman of Black Canary, a new band that is already mega-successful. But trouble seems to follow Dinah, and show after show ends in a fight. Will her past always follow her? And if it does… is that such a bad thing? References to Dinah’s canary scream and her birdy nickname run rampant throughout the first volume of this book, but my favorite moment by far is when Dinah takes the stage and someone in the crowd shouts “Freebird!!” So perfect.


prettydeadly1Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire, Sigrid Ellis, and Clayton Cowles

Sissy, the main character of Pretty Deadly, wears the skin of a vulture, and this theme is woven throughout the book with the appearance of feathers and the intimation of flight. The scenes of Sissy perched on a rock or a horse, the way she quietly observes others’ actions with avian curiosity—the creators so effortlessly blend reality and fantasy that I truly began to believe she is part bird.




I know I’m probably missing a ton of super birds; I’ve already added Hawkeye, Birds of Prey, and Nightwing to my reading list to continue the birdy theme.

What other books am I missing?