Families come in all shapes and sizes, but The Big Bad Fox, an upcoming graphic novel by cartoonist Benjamin Renner, features a configuration that you're unlikely to find in nature. It's about a fox who steals some chicken eggs in the hope of a meal, but is imprinted upon and embraced by the chicks who hatch from those eggs, forcing him to become a surrogate parent to creatures he'd prefer to see as prey.

We have an exclusive reveal of the book's cover, above, and Renner sent us a delightfully illustrated account of how he came up with the idea, which you can read below.

 

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The story of the Big Bad Fox came in my head when I was 7 years old. I was visiting a barn and saw some eggs in an incubator. I wanted to see them hatch, but my father told me that the new born chicken would think I'm their mother if I happened to be the first thing they would see.

At the time, I didn't feel ready to be a single mom, but the anecdote stayed in my mind. Later I started to think what would have happened if a human had to raise little chickens. Should he teach them how to act as a chicken?

 

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Or would they have learned how to act as a human? I then saw some videos that really blew my mind, proving that this kind of thing really happen in the wild. You can see it here.

Step by step I created this story of a fox, too weak to eat a hen, so he decides to steal eggs in order to eat the chicks, not knowing that they will think he is their mother...

 

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The Big Bad Fox will be out in Spring 2017 from First Second Books!