“Seeing my books and comics was the hardest, it made me think that it would have been easier if a tornado simply hit the house and flung it to another city. At least then we wouldn’t have to walk atop the things I cared most about. “
Neufeld, J. (2009). A.D: New Orleans After The Deluge. New York: Pantheon Books.
#929 on the 1001 Comic Books to Read Before You Die
From the publisher, “A stunning graphic novel that makes plain the undeniable horrors and humanity triggered by Hurricane Katrina in the true stories of six New Orleanians who survived the storm.
A.D. follows each of the six from the hours before Katrina struck to its horrific aftermath. Here is Denise, a sixth-generation New Orleanian who will experience the chaos of the Superdome; the Doctor, whose unscathed French Quarter home becomes a refuge for those not so lucky; Abbas and his friend Mansell, who face the storm from the roof of Abbas’s family-run market; Kwame, a pastor’s son whose young life will remain wildly unsettled well into the future; and Leo, a comic-book fan, and his girlfriend, Michelle, who will lose everything but each other. We watch as they make the wrenching decision between staying and evacuating. And we see them coping not only with the outcome of their own decisions but also with those made by politicians, police, and others like themselves–decisions that drastically affect their lives, but over which they have no control.
Overwhelming demand has propelled A.D. from its widely-read early Internet installments to this complete hardcover edition. Scheduled for publication on the fourth anniversary of the hurricane, it shines an uncanny light on the devastating truths and human triumphs of New Orleans after the deluge.”
I think much like those who lived through 9/11 can remember where they were or what they were doing the moment the plane hit The World Trade Center, those who saw the heartbreaking images coming out New Orleans and Biloxi also remember the time and place. I know I did. Both are significant watershed moments in American culture and history. For 9/11 it was the start of what has been deemed fear culture. For Katrina, it was a stark look at race and poverty relations in the US as well as knowing that American relief efforts can fail you. Despite best efforts to the contrary. It is hard things to talk about, and hard things to convey on paper. But as they say, a picture can tell a thousand words…This graphic novel certainly did.
A.D depicts seven different stories from seven different people and perspectives. Each experienced the hurricane first hand in one way or another. Some stayed, some fled, some went to the Silverdome, and some rode it out on top of a convenience store. A single story couldn’t tell a true tale about the people of New Orleans, but taken in aggregate, the reader definitely achieves a good understanding of what the city went through. It is both powerful and visceral and a tad unsettling.
Graphically, it isn’t spectacular concerning picture quality. But Neufeld conveys his thoughts with sober integrity. Each of the simply colored sections actively and effectively conveys the message of each story section. The graphics are not there to distract the reader from the story, they are more like icing on a literary cake.
One of the great things about this story is the pacing. Each of the characters has hard and intense moments, and light and fluffy everyday moments. If the reader is inundated with nothing but intense hard moments they would get bogged down in the dreary. The author switches the pace to keep the story moving because after all.. life is full of all kinds of moments.
I think this story would be a prime candidate to read in high school. It shows that comics and graphic novels can be an earnest form of narrative and should be taken thoughtfully. Some of the great stories of the twentieth century where graphic novels. V for Vendetta anyone? So read it, it is a damn fine story that by the end of it you will feel wrung out emotionally but satisfied mentally.