Whales project

In early 2020, I decided that my next comic was going to be about whales.

All I knew was that whales are cool, mysterious and REALLY interesting, so I planned to write/draw a nice big graphic novel about them.

Fast forward nearly three years later, surrounded by books, research, sketchbooks and heaps of notes, I realised this story was going to be bigger than I initially imagined. After spending all this time researching so many topics surrounding whales, the individual species and related global history I was starting to get completely lost in a spiral of academia and writing.

And then in May 2022, one of the many articles I absorbed stuck with me. Maybe this was something I could make as a short comic?

The article was about Sato’s beaked whales, written by Devon Bidal for the fantastic Hakai magazine. And, it got me thinking: Isn’t it nuts that we’re still discovering new species of whales? How did they even do this? I started writing and researching specifically around this discovery – using the scientific journal article announcing the discovery, and anything else I could find. This also led me to get in contact with one of the researchers, Erich Hoyt, who has been more than happy to help and played an integral part in what was to come: my short comic Karasu, or Sato’s beaked whale.

All the work that went into Karasu just cemented my original sentiment even more. Whales today are the largest creatures ever to exist on this planet. And they live to us, on this star-orbiting rock we call home. Yet we know, and see, so little of them.

Key areas of research

Overall, my interests cover:

  • The human connection to whales, which includes:
    • Spiritual connection, present-day and historic (e.g. everything from Japanese shrines to the Haida Gwaii, to ancient Nazca civilisation)
    • Cultural attitudes and relationships with whales (e.g. from whaling to save the whales)
    • Individual relationships with whales
  • The variety of whale species, their taxonomy, and where their names came from
  • The culture of whales: how they interact as groups, how they live, feed and view the world
  • The role of whales in history, both as living beings and in their posthumous use

Currently working on

Together with the Natural History Museum London’s Principal Curator of Mammals, Richard Sabin, I’m currently finishing work on a short comic about whale oil still present on the bones in the Cetacea research collection. This comic will be compiled with two other short comics, one being Karasu, to be published in 2024.

To complete this comic collection, I’ve paused work on a project about the Bryde’s whale complex, but work on this will continue in 2024.


If you have something whale-related you’d like to share, please email me at hello@rozihathaway.com


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