With the news that one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction the launch of The Rosette, a graphic novel about a teenage superhero and her snow leopard sidekick, by a young woman from Summit County, Colorado with a Kickstarter Campaign couldn’t come at a more perfect time.
Meet Devon Galpin Clarke, a passionate 14 -year-old and co-founder of a wildlife conservation project, Endangered Activism. When Devon was four she fell in love with snow leopards and set up several small fundraisers to support snow leopard conservation organizations. As Devon got older she realized that habitat, human-animal conflict, and climate change were affecting the creature she loved so much and wanted to do more.
Devon had the great fortune of spending a year homeschooling and traveling overseas where she took a deep dive into wildlife conservation and activism. That time abroad allowed her to hatch The Rosette, a graphic novel about a teenage superhero and her snow leopard sidekick, Himmy, who work together to save earth from the sixth extinction.”
She thought of a story during her first field research trip for her wildlife conservation project, Endangered Activism, in Namibia with her mother. The story and the main characters were so vivid that she couldn’t stop talking about them and began writing down ideas for a graphic novel. On Devon’s next stop in Paris, she and her mom started writing the story and developing the characters. Over the next several months the story took shape, it was obvious that Himalaya “Himmy” was one of the main characters, just like in real life she was Devon’s secret sidekick. “The real Himmy was on the trip with us – in my backpack,” says Devon. They created their first street art project with her footprints and brought her to life in the streets of Paris.
Devon’s mother, Shannon Galpin, a human rights activist and artist, began collaborating to create a project that could use art, storytelling, and field research to engage youth activism and inspire change.
“We dumped characters, ideas, brainstorms from field research, and actual funny stories like small rodents chewing through our fuel line in Namibia which became sabotage by rogue agents in a future storyline that we wrote down and saved,” says Shannon Galpin. Poaching and wildlife crime themes, pollution, climate change, human-wildlife conflict scenarios that the duo learned about in their research and interviews developed into plot lines. Devon shared, “I learned how to structure the story arc, and how to be willing to discard ideas that I was attached to but didn’t move the story forward. The hard part was knowing I couldn’t draw. I had the story, but this was a graphic novel, so this needed to be a collaboration to bring the vision of the world to life.’ They were lucky in finding Mariana Prieto. A Colombian designer who became their illustrator and partner in crime to create The Rosette’s world.
Mariana was starting her career switch from designing for humans to a whole new way of thinking – designing for wildlife. They became a trio in a creative space, thinking about new ways of storytelling for wildlife conservation. The creative process began with three women, of three different generations, with five different passports between them!
Not only is the story value based, so is the production process. The team found a printer and production house that was recommended by the WWF that prints art books on recycled paper and use soy-based ink. They chose a shipping method that has the lowest environmental impact they could find too. This way we not only tell a superhero story but produce our story with superhero values! They have been unable to find a publisher to do this with them (at least not yet!) so self-publishing through Kickstarter made the most sense. Perhaps this is one step towards moving the needle for sustainable printing options with publishers!
The edition will be published in two versions, English and Spanish. Devon was raised attending a dual language program at Dillon Valley Elementary in Colorado. To recognize the importance of her dual language communities and to tie it back to their field research trip in Argentina with the Tompkins Conservation Program and Rewilding project in Iberia, Devon had to conduct all of her interviews with biologists and researchers in Spanish.
Devon chose to use graphic novels and street art as ways in which she can engage publicly to educate and inspire change with today’s youth as well as their parents. Devon wants everyone to know “I have been lucky to find mentors and collaborators that believe in me and have helped me bring the vision of my projects to life. I want my voice to matter. I hope you will join me!”
We hope you can help support this crucial endeavor!