‘What were you raised by wolves?’ Makes a Feral Girl Face the Savagery of Civilization
At the end of The Jungle Book, young Mowgli, the boy who was raised by wolves, stumbles into the human village and embarks on the next phase of his life. But after spending all that time among panthers and wolves while battling tigers, can Mowgli really fit in with human society, or will all that growling and biting render him an outcast?
What were you raised by wolves?, the new one-shot webcomic by Anya's Ghost creator Vera Brosgol, tries to answer that question for a feral girl thrown out of the woods and into the far more horrifying urban jungle, and uses the idea of the feral child to examine violence and socially unacceptable responses to bad behavior. By the end of the comic, I was ready to bite a few people myself.
Raised by wolves is wordless, but the story is clear as a punch to the face. A feral girl has spent her life among ferocious wolves, and after an act of wolf-on-human violence, realizes that she can no longer live among the canids. So she takes up with a human family, but she never quite fits in. She has nothing in the way of table manners, but her greatest sin is that she responds to the school bullies with bite marks.
The feral girl never fully grows out of being feral, but it's the world around her that proves ill-mannered and violent. What Brosgol does so skillfully is to make us identify with her feral child rather than treat her as the alien other. In the face of cruel children, domestic violence and rampant misogyny, the feral girl's wolfish responses seem far saner than politely ignoring the problems or melting down in tears. By the time you reach the comic's melancholy conclusion, you'll wonder just what's so wrong with a girl who uses her teeth instead of her words.