In the spirit of the writing of John Le Carre and comic art of Joe Sacco, ELI’s graphic novels and comics depict the organization’s covert missions, and the actions of ELI’s investigative teams, to expose the underbelly of the world’s wildlife criminal networks in a medium combining crime thrillers and comics journalism through a unique environmental lens.
ELI believes it is important to revise the current, outdated narrative around environmental and wildlife crime, currently focused on poachers and end consumers, with a more modern, fact-based narrative that highlights the most important elements of these crimes – the international traffickers, kingpins, organized crime networks, and corrupt government officials. Given the nature of ELI’s work, which is heavily based on intelligence gathering, investigations and undercover operations, graphic novels and comics will be able to show the public exactly what ELI’s teams are doing, and how, without jeopardizing field operations and the safety of ELI team members.
This project is in collaboration with a talented young artist, a student at Harvard University, Ava Salzman (co-creator and illustrator), with the support of ELI’s director Andrea Crosta (co-creator).
“The panels unspool a tale of a black market in endangered animals and a sting operation to bring smugglers to justice.” “By making the scourge vivid, ‘Fighting for the Vaquita,’ released in 2020 during the pandemic, shines a spotlight on international crime rings that have hooks in the extinction of both species, and in other forms of trafficking.”
In response to the dire circumstances facing the vaquita as by-catch of the illegal totoaba trade, Earth League International commenced an investigation and intelligence gathering operation called Operation Fake Gold in 2017, both in Mexico and China, along the entire illegal supply chain of the totoaba.