Kids can be really passionate about the environment. Kids love cartoons. So what better than to combine the two? It certainly worked with Captain Planet and the Planeteers; now Dan Wright and Dave Ponce are attempting to continue that educational awareness with their comic Rustle the Leaf. They’ve even included monthly lesson plans for teachers to use in their classrooms, and created flyers and posters that people can download.
Well, it seemed like a good idea on the surface. The environment is a major concern, and the characters are cute enough to make complex issues palatable…but does everything have to be so cynical? The comic isn’t about offering tips and tricks for living a more environmentally healthy life so much as it is about condemning the one we currently have. Humans are the enemy, and the characters are not shy about this fact—in fact, the character of Rooty is constantly making jokes about how it awesome it would be if and when all the humans finally die off. It’s seriously weighty and politically-heavy stuff, not appropriate for an audience of kids, especially when they’re the ones the comic purports to be trying to protect.
The comic is careful not to point fingers at the children, but it’s not shy about its targets—vegan food is also heavily slagged on by the characters, in addition to all the tirades about factory farming and genetically-enhanced corn. So, what exactly are we supposed to eat? Environmentalism is great, but you can’t just tell people what they’re doing wrong, you need to tell what they can do right.