“Bugbears are just a filthy nuisance, chewing furniture and spitting nightshade everywhere. Hit them with a nice strong beam of light and they’ll run away” — Nurse Chantsworth, Hex Vet: Witches in Training, n. pag.
|Creator(s)||Sam Davies (author)|
|Genre||Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction|
|Environmental Themes and Issues||Animals in Danger, Hostile Environment|
|Protagonist’s Identity||Clarion: Dark skinned teenage girl |
The comic also features a racially diverse cast of characters.
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency||Level 3: Moderate, Plot-Driven Environmental Agency|
|Target Audience||Middle Grade (8-12 years)|
|Settings||Fictional setting in the town of Whispering Woods|
Sam Davies’ Hex Vet comic series centers on two teenage witches, Clarion Wellspring and Annette (Nan) Artifice, who train as apprentice veterinarians at the Whispering Woods Veterinary Practice. The clinic provides medical care to a diverse clientele of magical creatures, including griffins, manticores, phoenixes, and witches’ cats. In the first volume, Hex Vet: Witches in Training, the clinic’s head veterinarians, Dr. Talon and Nurse Chantsworth, task Clarion with ridding the basement of a troublesome bugbear. The girl knows that shining light on the bugbear will scare it away, but she denounces that method as inhumane, remarking, “But direct exposure to light is very painful to bugbears… Maybe… maybe I could negotiate instead” (Davies n. pag.). She attempts to befriend the bugbear, but before she can locate it in the basement, Dr. Talon and Nurse Chantsworth announce that they must go attend a manticore birth. The adults leave Clarion and Nan in charge of the clinic, and the girls quickly find themselves facing a frightening magical problem when a rabbit with strange purple eyes wanders into their waiting room.
Nan places the rabbit inside a cage in the clinic’s boarding kennel, but it quickly escapes and uses its purple eyes to hypnotize the rest of the animals. The previously-friendly creatures attempt to attack Clarion and Nan, chasing them through the clinic as they attempt to hide. The bugbear–apparently the only creature immune to the rabbit’s powers–helps the girls evade the hypnotized animals, and Nan realizes that the creatures have been infected with a fictional disease called Hypnomatosis. She manages to break the animals out of their hypnotized states, and they put goggles on the rabbit to prevent it from infecting any other organisms. Dr. Talon and Nurse Chantsworth return to the clinic as the girls restore order. Dr. Talon attributes the rabbit’s Hynomatosis to a larger, as yet unknown environmental threat, saying, “It a natural phenomena in magical rabbit populations when they feel under threat… But I’ve never heard of one traveling so far afield to find targets, or with enough power to bespell large, magical beasts like griffins. Usually it’s the local fox or badger who gets caught. The threat these rabbits sensed must be VERY large” (Davies n. pag.). The veterinarian promises to contact the Wildlife and Fisheries Warlock Branch to investigate further, and Clarion and Nan depart for the day, with Clarion determined to continue researching the bugbear.
Through Clarion’s interactions with the bugbear, as well as all of the characters’ respectful caretaking of their patients, the comic promotes treating animals with care and kindness, even animals commonly regarded as frightening or nuisances. Additionally, Dr. Talon’s explanation of the rabbit’s illness as a defense mechanism caused by larger environmental threats also demonstrates the ways that environmental issues can impact animals and their behavior, even though the Hynomatosis disease is obviously fictional and the characters do not discover the underlying cause for the rabbit’s disorder. The comic also features a racially diverse cast of characters, including Dr. Talon and Clarion, who have dark skin.