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.