had to teach us

I didn’t know Walt Rave, but for years I saw him walking our Takoma Park neighborhood and swinging his fox pelt on a chain. I would learn that his cause was the ethical treatment of animals, though he still appeared intimidating. When I read of his death from a house fire in 2011, I immediately imagined a graphic narrative to encapsulate his life. I contacted two of his closest friends, Fred Hunter and Chris Nordby, and I started culling information and sketching. The more I learned about Walt, the more he stood out as an individual: a Vietnam War veteran who had been a tree surgeon, a nude model and a worker in Takoma Park’s tool library. He stuck solid to his principles against cruelty, even when he may have come across as unbalanced. Such utter conviction seems rare, and it is hard to capture even in black­-and­-white. Being, like Walt, an artist, a Navy veteran and a cat lover, I now find it unfortunate that I never stopped to chat with him once in a while. — Art Hondros

Art Hondros is a production staffer at National Geographic and a member of the DC Conspiracy, a local group of cartoonists that publishes the Magic Bullet comics newspaper. He will be responding to readers’ reactions and questions in the comments section of this story.

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