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, Josh and I thought we could 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.
We’re also grateful for the help we’ve had getting this story out. All the coverage in the blogsphere and mainstream media—from NPR to the L.A. Times—has blown us away. We’d like to send a special thanks to New Orleans’ own Times-Picayune, which featured A.D. 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 to bring you the second half of A.D.—six very personal points of view; one incredible story.
Crossposted on the SMITH List.