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April 22, 2014 at 11:52 am

He Fell in Love with the Wolves

Keara, an Alaskan Interior wolf, kisses John Buffington, with Micah, a timber wolf, watching.

Keara, an Alaskan Interior wolf, kisses John Buffington, with Micah, a timber wolf, in the background.

High in the Rocky Mountains, John Buffington ’15 fell in love with the wolves.

Now the Wildlife and Conservation Biology major is sharing his passion through a comic book that he wrote and illustrated called Keyni—The First Walk.

“So back in July, while I was interning at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, I wanted to make something unique in order to contribute to their mission of conservation, education, and preservation,” says Buffington. “After a short time of brainstorming ideas, I decided to create a comic book that uses the personalities and likenesses of real wolves, foxes, and other animals at the CWWC to tell a fictional story of a young wolf’s first walk. I chose to use this medium as a way to introduce information about wolves, and to bring up a few of the many issues affecting them, such as photo farms and hunting.”

Keyni--The First Walk, written and Illustration by biology student John Buffington

Keyni–The First Walk, written and Illustration by biology student John Buffington

The comic book is for sale in the CWWC visitor’s center, and a digital copy can be purchased on the CWWC website. “A percentage of the sales will go to the CWWC to help them with all of the great work they do in fighting for a better world for wolves, foxes, coyotes, and many others,” Buffington says on Tumblr.

‘The Highlight of My Time Was Meeting the Wolves’

“My internship consisted of learning about what goes into running, and maintaining, a nonprofit wolf conservation and education center. Most of my time was devoted to grounds keeping. This included cleaning the enclosures for the various animals at the center, pulling weeds, providing the animals with food and water when it was needed, path maintenance, and various other daily chores. The other part of my internship was educational. Every volunteer and intern was taught about each wolf at the center. We learned about their pasts and how they came to the wolf center, their social characteristics, and information about their species, or subspecies,” Buffington says.

Buffington with Wakanda, a timber/arctic mix

Buffington with Wakanda, a timber/arctic mix

“Some of the workers were allowed to socialize with the wolves, but I only got the opportunity to meet a few of the animals. The highlight of my time there was definitely meeting the wolves inside their enclosures,” Buffington says.

“​I created the Keyni comic book as a way to give back to the center in return for the amazing experiences that I had there. My hope is that people will read it and want to learn more about the issues that wolves are dealing with in this country. Then, hopefully, they will find their way to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center where they can go on a life changing tour to meet some incredible wolves.

“Although I’m proud of this comic book, and really honored that the CWWC would accept it in their store, if you choose not to purchase it, I would still encourage you to take a good look around their website. They have a lot of great information on there, and ways in which you can help in their mission,” he adds.

Buffington with Na'vi, a timber wolf (gray wolf).

Buffington with Na’vi, a timber wolf (gray wolf)

‘We All Started To See His Special Love for the Wolves’

“John came to the Wolf Center during the summer of 2013 to work with and learn about wolves and other canids. He was quiet, worked hard, and no one really knew much about him,” says Darlene Kobobel, founder of the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. “The longer he was here, the more we all started to see his special love for the wolves and how he watched their every move. Little did we know that his love and observations would turn into a story about the wolves at CWWC.

“Throughout my 20 years of working and living with wolves, I have never read a comic book about them. I think this is brilliant,” she said. “I can’t picture a better way for kids to learn about wolves than through a fun comic book.”

Keyni is a comic book that borrows personalities and likenesses from real life to tell a fictional story of a young wolf’s adventure and learning at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center(CWWC). Keyni is a male British Columbian/Tundra Wolf who was born in March 2013, and joined the CWWC family at several weeks old. In the comic book, Keyni experiences the sights and smells of the CWWC for the first time and is treated with a walk around the property to meet the other animals that live there. Keyni is reprimanded by the other wolves for being just a bit too adventurous, and by the end of the story begins to understand some of the current plight of wolves, especially in the United States, says the CWWC website.

Buffington with Micah and Keara

Buffington with Micah and Keara

In the News

Wheeling Intelligencer columnist Linda Comins noted that Buffington, a Wheeling native, “has brought his passion for wildlife and his artistic talent together into a published comic book…. While completing an internship in wildlife and conservation biology for Ohio University, he produced his first comic book, “Keyni: The First Walk.” Buffington said it is a story about a young wolf pup and his experiences at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, where he did his internship.”


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