Graphic artist Neufeld paints an emotive portrait of New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, as seen through the eyes of seven of the city’s citizens.
The opening panels coalesce into a long cinematic pan, a thrumming setup for the disaster. The half-page and quarter-page panels—satellite views of weather patterns and close inspections of neighborhoods—are crisp, and the two-page spreads are softly focused. There are no spoken words for the ominous first 25 pages; gathering winds and lashing waters propel the narrative. Thereafter, the braided story of seven people involved in the events—three tell of their exodus and the after-effects, four ride out the storm and its wake at home—provides an intimate appreciation of their frazzled emotional states in response to varied tribulations. This is a Hydra-headed, daily-mounting experience in political malfeasance—Neufeld explores FEMA’s failures, the menacing presence of the Army and police and the ineptitude of the government—spontaneous social engineering (tough guys distributing looted goods to the people stuck at the Convention Center and maintaining order), alienation of those who evacuated (“I think I could’ve stayed longer. I kinda felt like I wussied out”) and the kindness of strangers. There’s also plenty of misery, from the terror of the storm and the rising waters to the merciless heat and stink in the days after, with little potable water, food or medical supplies. Neufeld’s words and images are commensurable and rhythmic, and the vernacular is sharp.
Bristling with attitude and pungent with social awareness.