When Josh Neufeld and I first met last fall to talk about a webcomic about Hurricane Katrina, one of the things I posited to him was that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast might start to recede from the media’s attention. By doing a serialized story on SMITH chronicling the lives of a handful of people who escaped Katrina, I thought we could both tell a story the way we know and love best—one person at a time—and do whatever small part we could to keep reminding people about this disaster.
While I’m no expert on how the media has covered the region, I don’t think the world forgot about New Orleans (the government, maybe, but not the media, and not the folks I talk to every day, and the many people who have written in to say how moved they have been by A.D.). Right now, two years after the storm, stories are arriving from all parts. From the mainstream media, Time magazine’s coverage has been vast and well-packaged. Left of that dial, I recently read in Salon (reprinted from The Nation) about the ever-swelling prison population in the Big Easy, the mistreatment of the incarcerated, and the inability to catch many of the city’s most violent criminals. The Modern Love column in the Style section of The New York Times greeted me this Sunday with a piece about Katrina unlike any I’ve encountered: read The Rubble of My Marriage, Hidden by Katrina’s by Jackson, Mississippi’s Ellen Ann Fentress for a whole new take on one person’s relationship with the storm. In a very different way, the site Happy Birthday Katrina, will rock your world with shocking stats and info on the state of the region–yet in the same incredible online space offers recommendations on how you can get involved in the reconstruction.
At SMITH, we are so grateful to be able to present you our offering in the Katrina canon. We’re grateful that our six “characters”—Denise, Leo (and his girlfriend Michelle), The Doctor, Kevin, and Hamid—have been willing to go through the painful process of recounting their Katrina stories, opening their hearts and heads to us, and, quite often, their homes. We’re grateful that through these very real people, many others have a more intimate understanding of what it was like to survive and pick up the pieces of a life after Katrina.
At the two-year anniversary of Katrina, and the halfway point in A.D.’s 12-part run, we’re also grateful for the help we’ve had getting this story out. It’s no secret that SMITH is a labor of love (and in a post on his personal site, SMITH’s quiet co-founder, Tim Barkow, deconstructs the process of putting a webcomic like A.D. together); all the great coverage in the blogsphere and mainstream media—from NPR to the LA Times—has blown us away. We’d like to send a special thanks to New Orleans’ own The Times-Picayune, which honored A.D. with a feature this past weekend.
There are many stories left to be told about Katrina, New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast. In the coming months, Josh Neufeld and SMITH are proud bring you the second half of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge—six very personal points of view; one incredible story.