Back in the early 2000s, I decided I wouldn’t send out Christmas Cards. I decided I would send out Earth Day Cards instead, and I would make them into three page comics. They were meant to illustrate something about environmentalism. Some years I have done specific issues. Other years it has been a little more open to interpretation. I like both schools of thought.
Obviously, this year, the nascent hydrofracking industry is so belligerent, dangerous and arrogant that there was really nothing else I could do a comic about. If you don’t know about fracking, I have done several comics about it. The New York Times has been really killing it with their coverage, but long before the Grey Lady got interested, Laura Legere has been killing it with in-depth reports about hydrofracking in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, from ground level. Here’s one of my favorite pieces, on spilled frack fluids.
Normally, the Earth Day comic primarily features my character Chalk Fooljob and his friends, but I thought this seemed like a good time to introduce Chalk to TV. P.S. Earth Day is April 22nd, but I still wanted you guys to get a chance to see this, but I already had a comic up for that day. Besides, I wanted to let my friends get their paper version of this card before it went up.
Panel 1. There are two smokestacks. Chalk Fooljob is sitting on one of them.
Chalk: Well, I better go. My friends are going to say, "You smell like smokestacks again."
Panel 2. Chalk is flying. A bird is right alongside him.
Chalk [thinking]: I just don't ... understand.
Panel 3. Chalk is landing on an urban residential street.
Chalk [thinking]: It's not like people would build something that big if it will make other people sick. Would they?
Panel 4. Chalk is walking by a gas station.
Panel 5. Chalk is walking by an exterminator's truck that says: Blaster Exterminators - God Creates, We Kill.
Panel 6. Chalk walks by a McDonald's.
Panel 7. Chalk is sitting on some steps with his hands bracing him behind him.
Chalk [thinking]: I mean, would they?
Panel 8. Chalk is flying in over a panoramic view of a hydrofracking site in Pennsylvania.
Panel 1. TV is in the foreground with a hard hat on, seen from behind. Chalk is flying around above a drilling rig.
TV: Hey, who are you, flying about up there.
Panel 2. Chalk is landing by a foreman's shack. TV is standing on the ground, slightly more in the foreground.
Chalk: I'm Chalk Fooljob! So many people are talking about this hydrofracking thing that I decided I would come have a look at a natural gas drilling site myself.
TV: So you think you have the right to have a look at anything you can walk up to?
Panel 3. TV is facing the reader now; Chalk is pointing at his boot rocket.
Chalk: Well, I flew.
TV: You're crafty with the rhetoric, aren't you?
Panel 4. Chalk and TV are standing at the edge of a black plastic lined frack pit.
Chalk: The way I hear it, you guys inject a lot of water in the ground.
TV: About a million gallons or so, give or take a million.
Chalk: And you load the water up with enough anti-freeze to kill a 900 pound cow.
TV: You know about the cow?
Chalk: What cow?
TV: No cow! There was no cow!
Panel 1. TV and Chalk are talking while a diesel truck comes onto the frack pad behind them.
Chalk: What kind of stuff are you injecting with the water on this site?
TV: The Federal Government doesn't require us to disclose that.
Chalk: The Federal Government isn't asking. I am.
TV: You should play Chess. You are amazing at this.
Panel 2. Chalk and TV walk along by the frack pit.
Chalk: Can you show me around?
TV: Sure. This is our water pit.
Chalk: It's open. What happens when ducks land in it?
TV: You didn't tell me you were a Communist.
TV: And this is our drill rig.
Chalk: It's huge.
TV: Yes, and it can turn its drill bit, which gets us more gas.
Chalk: And you also use it to apply the cements that protect the water table, right?
TV: Yes, yes. But mostly it's to drill.
Panel 4. TV has his hand on the shoulder of a pudgy looking guy in a hardhat and a Pennsylvania State Worker polo shirt.
TV: And this is our environmental inspector.
Chalk: So he's here all the time?
TV: Yes! It's great! If we spill something that is really nasty, he can document that it never happened.
Chalk: What do one of these cost?
TV: Less than you might think.
Panel 5. TV and Chalk are standing in a more natural looking area with a stream running by.
TV: And this is our pride and joy.
Chalk: It's a stream. You don't own a stream.
TV: Of course not! And it's also not a place you would dump used frackwater in the middle of the night, either.
Chalk: Wow, Happy Earth Day Little Stream!