Book Review: “A.D. – New Orleans After the Deluge” – Eyewitness News

Finished another quick read last week; one which I expected would take more time.  A.D: New Orleans After the Deluge is a graphic novel by Josh Neufeld which collects and recounts the stories of seven actual survivors of Hurricane Katrina.  From different backgrounds, neighborhoods, and circumstances, Neufeld’s subjects all had unique experiences during the disaster.  Some fled the city, while others stayed; some were able to rebound and rebuild, while others were forced to start over somewhere anew; some received the help they needed, while others floundered literally near death.

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Neufeld’s storytelling is very straightforward, as is his visual style.  His panels are detailed, but his layout is simplistic, with never more than four panels occupying a page.  The color scheme is smart, but bland.  Each panel is dyed in assorted sepia hues, giving the art the appearance of being literally and figuratively washed out.  Within the art, white spots highlight particular objects, or the lack thereof.  This monochromatic scheme drew me away from the art and towards the captions, which I can’t help but think was unintentional.  After all, this is a comic book.

The stories of Neufeld’s subjects are truly remarkable, and he makes no effort to hype up or overdramatize their experiences, simply because he doesn’t need to.  These stories are simply too astonishing and too important to be tampered with, an opinion I believe Neufeld to be pushing particularly hard in his retelling of Denise’s tale.  Denise and her family were evacuated to the Convention Center, where they witnessed firsthand how poorly organized disaster relief was, and how costly the bureacratic bunglings wound up being.

The gathering storm, as drawn by Neufeld
The gathering storm, as drawn by Neufeld

A.D. is readable and absorbing, but I was surprised how quickly I went through it.  I tried to slow down as I saw the pages remaining decrease in number, figuring that I was missing pertinent details in the artwork.  Yet looking longer over the panels didn’t enhance the experience as much as I expected.  Neufeld’s work is a valuable piece of contemporary history, but given the depth of the subject, it’s just a little bit shallow.

~ T

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