* 2021 Golden Comic Award
The clouded leopards that once roamed the mountain forests of Taiwan are extinct, but in this creative blend of zoological fact and comic book fantasy, the spirit of the clouded leopard lives on as the guardian of a natural history museum.
The legendary Formosan clouded leopard, a fierce apex predator, once inhabited the remote reaches of Taiwan’s mountain forests. Under pressure from the gradual expansion of human settlements, the clouded leopard eventually went extinct on Taiwan, leaving behind only museum specimens. But in this creative collaboration between comic book artist Hambuck and the National Taiwan Museum, the clouded leopard lives on as the spiritual protector of a museum.
The four stories contained within this graphic novel strike a delicate balance between zoological fact and creative fiction, tracing a family of clouded leopards through multiple generations as they navigate various challenges. Readers begin in the primeval forest, where they observe Jumper defend his territory, court a female leopard, and father offspring. In the next generation, Scarface detects the presence of a new creature within his forest kingdom. In his doomed attempts to defend his territory from this new threat, he inadvertently forms a mysterious bond with Muni, a human child on the way to becoming a powerful shamaness. As she matures, Muni realizes her ability to see the future is enhanced whenever she is in the presence of a clouded leopard. Using her powers, Muni foretells the grim blow that industrial society will eventually deal to the clouded leopard and her own people, but also manages to help a descendent of Jumper and Scarface fulfill his destiny and become the protector spirit of a natural history museum.
Blending the precision of a naturalist with the humor and appeal of comics, Hambuck’s art summons the majestic spirit of an extinct predator to the page, while lending warmth to the subtle relationships between humans and animals that form the core of the story.