Believe it or not, I have a secret identity. When I am not suited up as one of the top comic reporters coming to you live from NY, I take the cape off and am the world’s greatest school social worker, ever. Like many human service professionals, I enjoy a quality fluffy story. I want my comics to inspire me, to move me. And I love using comics to teach my kiddos morals and to inspire them to read.
While at this year’s inaugural Special Edition: NYC Comic Convention, I fell in love with a comic titled A Piggy’s Tale, which is the fluffiest of fluffy comics. It is not only an inspirational story about a three-legged superpup, but its proceeds/profits help injured animals in the Galapagos Islands. I had the opportunity to chat with A Piggy’s Tale creator and writer Tod Emko, a conservationist that also starred on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars. As you read this interview, make sure to use a super enthusiastic and passionate voice in your head, because that best describes Tod’s demeanor.
We are A Piggy’s Tale. We are a comic book about a real life, three-legged superhero dog. So the story is about how he went from being a homeless, injured, South American dog to becoming a New York City superhero. And the comics are about his adventures. And we are an animal hospital in South America. Our name is Darwin Animal Doctors. We are actually the only animal hospital in the Galapagos Islands and so some of the animals in the book that star in it are our patients as superheroes. By buying the comic people not just hopefully get inspired to save others and be heroic, but also they are directly contributing to saving animals in South America and one of our most important ecosystems, the Galapagos… And we’ve actually been getting amazing reviews from everyone from Huffington Post, to Comicsbeat to Bleeding Cool News. And we are being hailed, actually Bleeding Cool magazine hailed us as one of the top new all ages comics of 2014. So we are very excited about the project. And people who want to get one can either get one here at the convention or always online at Piggytale.com.
UTF: How many animals have been helped by the funding from this project so far?
Actually, even just this month we’ve had a major campaign in the Galapagos Islands where vets came from Canada and partially funded by these efforts we were able to save over 200 animals, about 256 animals in two weeks. This campaign actually has a direct effect on the animals down in South America so it’s a really important project too.
UTF: Who came up with the idea for this project?
This is actually my project. Piggy is my dog and I actually did some campaigns in South America like in Ecuador and I found Piggy in the Dominican Republic with another veterinary group and he inspired me to start the project on the Galapagos Islands as a permanent veterinary hospital. I’m a conservationist by heart and so I started the project by bringing veterinarians down to the Galapagos. The stories that came back out of that project are so dramatic and so inspiring that we just had to start making comics about these amazing animals.
UTF: Have many rescued animals have starred and been superheroes in your comics so far?
So far, Piggy is our spokes doggy so he is a very big part of the face of our project. Simon is our first patient from the Galapagos Islands so he is also a very big face to the project as well. In the second issue there’re a bunch of dogs that he’s been friends with both here and abroad. It’s a smorgasbord of animals all over.
UTF: Who are the villains?
The villains are people who are testing on animals in order to harvest special abilities like Piggy’s superhero powers. Piggy is working with a valiant group of people and animals to rescue these animals that are being trapped in this place while they’re rescuing people and animals all over New York City.
UTF: How did Piggy get his powers?
Piggy actually in the book… it’s a very special tale about how he discovered and was granted powers through his travels and his travails. In real life, Piggy actually has the super power that inspired this comic book series to seek out and find the people who are suffering and who need to be rescued. He’s done this so many times, our dog walkers have called us screaming, “Do you know what Piggy just did? He singled out somebody in Central Park and ran right up them. He crawled up to them looking up at them with his eyes and they started crying and petting him. They all say how did you know I needed that.” He does that over and over.
He even did it here yesterday at the convention. Ran up to somebody, they cried, they petted him and they said, “How did you know I needed that?” He can find who needs to be rescued and so it’s a real life super power and we wrote it as his power in the book.