photo & text by nacrowe
the POIGNANT graphic novel OIL AND WATER (FANTAGRAPHICS, 2011) which examines the CUMULATIVE DESTRUCTION of both HURRICANE KATRINA in 2005 and the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill in 2010 on the ECONOMY, ECOSYSTEM and WAY-OF-LIFE of NEW ORLEANS and the surrounding marshes and wetlands of the bayou is a COLLABORATIVE effort between JOURNALIST STEVE DUIN of THE OREGONIAN and ILLUSTRATOR SHANNON WHEELER of THE NEW YORKER. its narrative centers around a group of WELL-MEANING ACADEMICS, OFFICIALS and REPORTERS from OREGON who visited the LOUISIANA COAST in august 2010 in the immediate aftermath of the DEEPWATER HORIZON CALAMITY (which ended in september 2010) to bear witness to the DEVASTATION as well as document the response.
what becomes all-too OBVIOUS in the midst of this cataloguing is the MONUMENTAL scale of the PROBLEM and the ABJECT FUTILITY in both attempting to repair the DAMAGE and addressing the GREED that spurred it into being in the first place, not just by BRITISH PETROLEUM, but by the greater POLITICAL and BUSINESS INTERESTS of the REGION over GENERATIONS. the FRUSTRATING INTRACTABILITY of the PROBLEM is just STUPEFYING and our COLLECTIVE CULPABILITY in incentivizing such CAVALIER risk-taking is clear as day. this will prove to be a continuing ENVIRONMENTAL SCOURGE for GENERATIONS to come as the unleashed oil continues to silently adversely affect FRAGILE WILDLIFE ECOSYSTEMS.
i believe DUIN and WHEELER made an ADROIT decision in presenting this material through the first-hand accounts of not only the visiting OREGONIANS, but also the local RESIDENTS and FISHERMAN who lived through both DISASTERS. in this manner you get an outside and inside perspective on the depths of how these NATURAL and MAN-MADE CALAMITIES profoundly alter WAYS-OF-LIFE and LOCAL CULTURE that previously spanned GENERATIONS. you also get the sense that we are all SUSCEPTIBLE to such given the changing state of the climate that is rooted in our collective INSATIABLE ADDICTION to fossil fuels. in LOUISIANA, that MASSIVE REVENUE generated by the PETROLEUM INDUSTRY is the root of the PROBLEM and there are no easy solutions.
walking away from this graphic novel, it just feels like and INDICTMENT on humanity's INABILITY to find balance with the NATURAL WORLD. we extract RESOURCES and create value for our SHAREHOLDERS, but at who's expense? our own and the VOICELESS future generations that have to wade through this SHIT. and oil if you live near the DELTA. OIL AND WATER is a MISERABLE but POIGNANT graphic novel well worth checking out.