Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rolling Blackouts

Rolling Blackouts:  Dispatches From Turkey, Syria and Iraq is a graphic novel summarizing a trip that the author took to the Middle East with friends who are international journalists.  It is a comic about how journalism works and is based on true events that occurred during the two month trip.

The journalists have formed a collective called Seattle Globalist and have planned a trip through  Turkey, Syria and Iraq to write reports primarily about the region absorbing refugees with dwindling resources, an underreported subject in the mainstream media.  All but one are friends from childhood and includes a former Marine who had been stationed in Iraq.  The author observed her friends interview civilians, refugees and officials including a UN refugee administrator, taxi driver, Iraqi refugee deported from the U. S., Iraqis seeking refuge in Syria and the American Marine.

The journalists use their first interview with a subject mainly to get to know them personally.  Then they meet afterward to discuss what kind of story they can get from the person and how to lead the interview.  Follow-up interviews focus on how the war affected them and if the interviewee was a refugee the journalists discussed their life before the war, how they became refugees, what their future plans and/or desires are and what kind of life they think is actually possible for them.

I found it interesting that none of the refugees wanted to resettle in the U. S. They believe the U.S. invasion of Iraq caused their life to be permanently over. It was also interesting that while the refugees were both rich and poor, most of them were formerly middle class with degrees. There is no longer a middle class in this region and that is why these countries are finding it impossible to rebuild.  All of the people with skills that are needed to rebuild are sitting in refugee camps.

I loved this serious non-fiction graphic novel and hope that more serious graphic novels are written in the future. The information inside its pages was very informative.  The artwork was created with colorful watercolor drawings done in comic panels.  This book is a must read for our national politicians as they do not seem to understand the problems facing the Middle East.  Highly recommended!

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