Guerilla Green

Guerilla Green
Guerilla Green review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Boom! Box - 978-1-68415-663-4
  • Release date: 2019
  • English language release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781684156634
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

After a decade of working in public relations with all the attendant stresses it brings, Ophélie Damblé quit in 2016 to become an urban gardener, which if we’ve considered it at all would surely be thought by most to be lifestyle rather than a trade. However, it’s an occupation with a heritage stretching back centuries, although the modern day version is generally acknowledged to have begun with Liz Christy and her associates regreening areas of Manhattan from 1973.

Damblé begins by supplying her experience and the history before moving on to the basics of guerrilla gardening, which distils down to reclaiming city spaces for nature. It’s an instructional guide, beginning with why guerilla planting is a good idea, laying down some surprisingly heavyweight reasons that ought to concern us all. As she’s a Parisian resident it’s her home city used an example, and there’s no longer enough green spaces in Paris to combat atmospheric pollution effectively.

Cookie Kalkair keeps the art simple, but also achieves the necessary impact when the mood changes, especially good at having Damblé’s caricature shouting at readers. Her caricature features on most pages as in essence Guerilla Green is an illustrated lecture, but Kalkair ensures the moods are many.

The comic sections are interspersed with back-up material in text form, often involving a specialist to explain a particular point, and jaw-dropping statistics come thick and fast, not least that France is currently paving land at a rate of 280 square feet a second. Information and reasoning go hand in hand, so Damblé discusses the benefits of guerilla gardening not just in terms of climate activism, but for food, mental wellbeing, and biodiversity among other pluses. She’s messianic about her cause, yet common sense is always evident, and by the end Damblé has made her case so forcefully you’ll be looking for vacant spaces the next time you walk through your town.