BY BETH PETER
On Oct 15, 2015, students filled the Davidson Rooms in the Student Community Center to listen to Josh Neufeld, New York Times Best Selling author, as he shared his Hurricane Katrina experience with the County College of Morris Legacy Project. His piece of comic journalism, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge was the topic of his presentation, and he sold and signed copies there.
Chair of the Department of Communication Dr. Matthew Jones introduced Neufeld and recounted the impressive pieces of work in his portfolio. Jones stressed the legitimacy of comics as an artform and method of journalism, saying that “comic art is a serious medium for the development of culture and history.” Neufeld expanded on that in his talk.
“I don’t perceive comic art to be a lighthearted, silly art form.” Neufeld said.
The subject matter of A.D. is certainly not lighthearted, following six main characters through their Hurricane Katrina experiences. Neufeld spoke to six individuals who had unique experiences dealing with the hurricane and created characters that then each exemplified a stage of the storm. The characters provided separate viewpoints, that Neufeld could then use to address the varied situations in the storm. An uncommon medium, the style in which Neufeld creates often makes a piece on such a serious topic more approachable.
“I thought his idea of using comics instead of writing articles in journals and magazines was a neat idea,” said Natasha Griffith, a communication major.
“I thought it was cool how he took a group of people’s stories and turned them into comic adaptations.”
The ease of consumption allows the information to spread to a wider audience.
The Legacy Project is designed to bring interesting experiences to students that they may not have otherwise had the chance to do. Hurricane Katrina affected many lives, but most CCM students were not personally afflicted.
“I think some people don’t know enough about Hurricane Katrina – myself included – so his way of showing what really happened through comics was a great way to inform people,” said Melissa Malrechauffe, a communication major.
She further touched on points Neufeld raised as he explained to the audience that the media coverage at the time of the hurricane was often inaccurate, portraying horrors that simply never happened.
“He said the hurricane and what was going on in New Orleans was made out to be different through the media than it actually was, so it’s amazing that through his work we get to know the truth and what really occurred.” Malrechauffe said.
John Soltes, co-chair of the Legacy Project, said he was pleased at the end of the function.
“I think the event went great, and I was impressed with Josh Neufeld’s presentation on the important issues that surround Hurricane Katrina. From talking about his process as an artist to his quest to find survivors to offer their narrative, his lessons and stories were quite instructive and revealing.” Soltes said. “I’m so glad he was able to meet our students and faculty, and share with them his stories of ‘A.D.’ and his other artistic work.”
When asked about future Legacy Projects, Soltes emphasized that nothing was yet finalized, but the issue of prison reform is a potential topic for the spring.