Oil and Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler

Oil and Water
by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler
Fantagraphics, 2011

This study of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is a bit of a missed opportunity, but demonstrates how difficult it is to achieve Joe Sacco’s standard of graphic reportage. The authors joined a group from Oregon traveling to the Gulf Coast to investigate the effects of the oil spill on the local community, interviewing many stoic residents still debilitated by Hurricane Katrina five years previously, and pre-numbed to the outrageous lies and obfuscation of BP.

The artwork (by the creator of the brilliant Too Much Coffee Man, unusually subdued) is simple and clear, and the stories of devastation and ruined lives fairly unambiguous, but its solemn, hectoring tone isn’t as informative or as vivid as, say, A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge and we spend rather too much time with the members of the Portland touring party, who are extremely flat and unlikeable characters.

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