Everlasting Memorial: Josh Neufeld’s A. D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

Posted by on December 4th, 2009 at 7:15 AM

A. D.:  New Orleans After the Deluge;  Josh Neufeld;  Pantheon.  208 pp; $24.95;  Color; hardcover;  ISBN: 9780307378149.

Long-time illustrator for Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, Josh Neufeld has published his first full-length graphic novel, A. D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. A. D. first was published as a Web-comic on SMITH Magazine (serialized in 2007 through 2008). In an interview conducted with his publisher, Neufeld describes this new book version as “a completely new animal because the “book edition of A.D. has about 25 percent more story and art than what appeared online.” This book portrays the plight of Hurricane Katrina survivors in a powerful and stunning way.

The book is divided into five sections (“The Storm,” “The City,” “The Flood,” “The Diaspora” and “The Return”). In each part, Neufeld follows the lives of seven “real people who [. . .] lived through the storm”: Denise, a middle-age, African-American woman; Leo and Michelle, a Caucasian couple living in Mid-City; Abbis, an Iranian-immigrant store owner; Darnell, Abbis’s good friend; Kwame, an African-American high school senior; and “The Doctor,” a French Quarter resident who is a man-about-the-town. Such diversity shows the multifaceted loss caused by the hurricane and its subsequent flood, as Neufeld explains: “In relation to Katrina, what links the population of New Orleans—not to mention that whole Gulf Coast region—is a devastating sense of loss: of lives, of possessions, of home, of community. Each of the characters in A. D. suffered that loss in a different way, and I wanted the story to reflect those different realities.” What makes the novel excellent is that the author follows each character beyond the storm and its immediate aftermath. Instead, Neufeld continues the story of each character through a dissemination — or to use Neufeld’s term “diaspora,” a loaded word to suggest an official, forced removal of these victims from their homeland — and through an anti-climactic, somewhat unglamorous return to the city. Continuing these stories to an unfinished conclusion brings a rich depth to the novel. Consequently, this reviewer believes Neufeld has created a work of art that becomes both social history and political commentary.

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One Response to “Everlasting Memorial: Josh Neufeld’s A. D.: New Orleans After the Deluge”

  1. Leo McGovern says:

    Hey Matthew,

    Thanks for the review! Being in A.D.’s been an interesting and rewarding experience, and it’s a personal thrill to see my name in The Comics Journal. Getting the story of New Orleans out to the masses is always a good thing, and I’m glad to see the book so well-received.