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Review of ‘A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge’ GN

ICv2 Stars: 4 (out of 5)

Published: 08/11/2009, Last Updated: 11/30/1999 12:00am
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge GN
Pantheon
$24.95
Release Date: 8/15/2009
Creator(s): Josh Neufeld
Format: 208 pgs.; B&W plus tinting color; Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0-307-37814-9
ICv2 Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, was the costliest and fifth deadliest (an estimated 1,836 people killed) natural disaster in U.S. history.  The historic city of New Orleans, where nearly every major levee was breached in the wake of the hurricane, was the focal point of the death and destruction.  No account of the hurricane provides a better feel for what it was really like for the ordinary citizens of New Orleans than Josh Neufeld’s A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, a superb exercise in comic reportage that chronicles the struggles of seven real people who represent the disparate social classes of New Orleans.  The group includes an Iranian-American owner of a small supermarket and his fishing buddy, a bon vivant doctor from the French Quarter, a sixth-generation New Orleans poet and kickboxer, the high school age son of an East New Orleans pastor, and a young music-zine publishing, comic book-loving writer and his girlfriend.  

Neufeld’s seven-sided account of the Katrina disaster first appeared online at Smith Magazine. The print version includes about 25% additional material, but it retains the tinted look of the online original.  In both the online and printed versions Neufeld uses the color tinting much like silent moviemakers did to create a mood, an overall ambience, and like the situation he was describing, the colors become more hellish as the 4-5 day period he is chronicling unfolds across the pages.  

The online strip with its links to interviews, YouTube videos, and news accounts had its own discursive advantages that are impossible to incorporate in print, but the graphic novel version has its unique qualities thanks to a wide variety of page layouts that vary from two-page spreads to eight-panel pages and the inclusion of additional material about the seven survivors of Katrina’s fury and its aftermath.

- Tom Flinn
 
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