Sunday, November 19, 2006

vaughan's pride of baghdad

Brian K. Vaughan has been hailed as one of America’s most critically acclaimed graphic novel writers and his talent is clearly evident in this latest venture. Inspired by true events, “Pride of Baghdad” tells the story of a pride of lions that escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during a bombing raid in the spring of 2003. Vaughan has teamed up with artist Niko Henrichon to offer readers a unique and heartbreaking look into what it’s like to live in a warzone. After their escape from the ruined zoo, the lions encounter other animals that offer unique perspectives, such as the tortoise that survived WWI. During the course of the story, the animals begin to question what, exactly, is freedom. Can freedom be achieved without being earned? What’s the price of freedom? What do the lions owe the zookeepers who took care of them at the price of keeping the lions in captivity? Where should they go? What should they eat? The four lions soon realize that a desert city is nothing like the grassy savannas of their memories. The lions’ stories mirror the story of the Iraqi citizens displaced by the war. The story succeeds on both the graphic novel level and as an account of the current crisis. Henrichon’s use of browns and grays evoke the sands of Iraq, while the long brush strokes and careful attention to detail mirror the precise and minimalist dialog that Vaughn uses. A highly allegorical story grounded in compelling and believable characters, “Pride of Baghdad” makes it clear that without self-determination there can be no freedom.

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