Qual Albatroz is a twice-monthly comic strip about a somewhat unusual colony of albatrosses lost somewhere in the south Pacific. The cartoons are drawn by Marc Parchow Figueiredo – who has never seen an albatross although he much wishes to do so.
Marc lives in Portugal and writes to ACAP: “I'm half Portuguese, half German and born in France. I got into albatrosses as a child growing up in Germany. I grew up to be very interested in nature and conservation issues, but followed a creative career rather than biology. Later I started my own publishing company in Portugal and was stuck for a name. I wanted something nonsensical and funny, so out of a whim I chose "Qual Albatroz" (What Albatross) as the name of my firm. It's a reference to something from the Douglas Adams’ book "The long dark teatime of the soul" and refers to the albatross in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge.”
"Some time after that I started a project with the Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) and the idea was to publish a small book about the albatross. We'd ask Portuguese artists to collaborate and to send in some work about the albatross. The profits from the sale went to the BirdLife Save the Albatross Project. I myself participated in the book with two or three comic strips, and [those] were the first cartoons I drew about the somewhat unusual albatrosses.”
“While selling my book to help albatrosses I found that many people in Portugal have never heard about that magnificent seabird. Nor did they know about the bycatch problem that is killing so many seabirds, so my idea with the albatrosses cartoon was to create an interesting way to get people to care about albatrosses and to want to find out more. Amidst all this the funny (and sad) thing is that I've never seen a live albatross. That is still my dream. Till then I'll just draw them as I imagine them to be.”
Marc’s albatross cartoons have been appearing regularly on ACAP’s Facebook page recently (click here). He has now produced a special strip for the Albatross and Petrel Agreement as illustrated below. It alludes to the "killer mice" of Gough Island that attack chicks of the Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena every winter.
Marc writes of his ACAP cartoon: “There is a part “[in the movie The Wizard of Oz] where Dorothy comes out of her house after the storm, and notices that the house is in a different world, and a wicked witch lies smashed beneath the house. So she says to her Dog: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more”. [T]his sentence is now colloquially used to say that there has been a paradigm shift, and that the rules are now different. That’s the idea behind the cartoon. The albatross realizes that life is changed” (cllck here).
With grateful thanks to Marc Parchow Figueiredo.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 11 July 2013