I must be binging because I’ve just gorged myself on another excellent non-superhero graphic novel. “Burnout” combines my love for graphic novels with my passion for environmentalism. Donner’s story, which is beautifully rendered in black and white by Inaki Mirranda, modernizes George Hayduke, Edward Abbey’s ecoterrorist and central figure in “The Monkey Wrench Gang.”
“Burnout” is told from the perspective of an angst ridden teenage girl named Danni. Danni’s father split, leaving Danni and her mother to fend for themselves. They move out of the city to a small logging town where Danni meets Haskell, the Emo son of her mother’s new lover.
Danni immediately falls for Haskell, but he is far too focused on his work and only tolerates her presence. So, Danni, like any crushing girl, inserts herself into his activity. One day, Danni follows Haskell deep into the woods where she discovers that he is an ecoterrorist. Without thinking about the repercussions, Danni joins Haskell in spiking the forest’s trees. Lumberjacks will not cut down spiked trees, fearing broken chainsaws or worse.
As Danni and Haskell’s romance begins to heat up, Haskell’s destructive acts become bolder. He moves beyond tree spiking to cementing up toxic waste drainpipes, and planning a massive power outage. Will Danni continue to support and participate in Haskell’s fight to save the fragile ecosystem in which he was born, or will the threat of the F.B.I. rip their new found love a sunder?
Donner has created an intelligent fiction that explores the issue of ecoterrorism. Haskell may be an Emo-tree-hugger heartthrob, but Danni’s rock and roll best friend Vivian provides the counterpoint. Vivian’s family comes from a long history of loggers, including her uncle who lost a finger to a broken chain caused by a spiked tree. Vivian also argues that ecoterrorism adversely affects the local economy.
“Burnout” is a story that I wish I had written. I’ve been trying to put together a series of short stories based on environmental issues that trouble me. At the center of these stories, I’ve been sketching out an ecoterrorist group based on “The Monkey Wrench Gang” to tackle big business, big oil, big energy, and big water. I just hope that I can put forward a story half as eloquent Donner’s “Burnout.”