Once upon a time, there was a prince with skin as green as grass.
Sound like a fairytale? It is. With a focus on social activism, cartoon artists Inbal Freund-Novick and Chari Pere have published a story inspired by the real-life tale of Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi, whose electric car company is working on sustainable transportation.
“The Green Prince” hews closely to Agassi’s professional trajectory, from president of a technology company to founder of Better Place, which focuses on developing electric cars and batteries as an alternative to today’s gas guzzlers. (For his contributions to sustainable transportation, Agassi was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2009.)
“Who doesn’t love cartoons?” Pere said. “In today’s world, where the technology is transforming rapidly, comics are a fun, engaging and popular medium that can be used online, in print and in various media.”
Through their “Unmasked Comics Project,” funded with seed money from ROI, a Jewish community of innovators, Freund-Novick and Pere have depicted other stories of social change. An earlier comic focused on 28-year-old Ariella Dadon, who struggled to obtain a divorce from her violent and abusive husband. Although the pair planned to release only one comic, they were inspired to continue after earning critical acclaim with “The Ariella Dadon Story.”
“We wanted to promote another issue that we believe in very much, but that is more universal, so with our sophomore comic we went ‘green,’” Chari said. “Our ultimate goal is to create an anthology of these ‘Unmasked comic stories’ for social change, where the underlying message is that social change is possible.”
The “Green Prince” depicts a prince, with “skin as green as grass,” who is a successful software executive. One day, the prince is invited to a conference of young princes and rulers and there, he is asked: “What would you do to make the environment a better place in twenty years?”
“The prince thought long and hard,” researching the issue with energy experts and scouring Wikipedia for answers, as the cartoon illustrates. Then he came to a conclusion. “Getting the world off oil is the key!” the prince exclaims.
In real life, Agassi has raised more than $400 million from investors to date in order to launch his signature contribution to the electric car industry: a robot that can swap out depleted batteries on an electric car. “If we can’t do this in less time than it takes to fill your gasoline tank… we don’t have a company,” he told The New York Times earlier this year, demonstrating his robot at a warehouse outside Tel Aviv. “Some people say I’m missing the fear gene.”