Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we take a look at Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon’s Pride of Baghdad…
The original graphic novel Pride of Baghdad is based on the real life story of four lions who were freed from the Baghdad Zoo during the beginning of the current Iraq War.
Vaughan decided to tell the story from the perspective of the lions, and he does an absolutely brilliant job of developing the personalities of the four lions (the dominant male lion, two female lions (one young one old) and the cub of the younger female lion) while, even more impressively, keeping their personalities at least somewhat consistent with what we know of lion behavior.
Henrichon’s artwork is fluid and filled with characterization.
Here is a sample from early in the book…
I’m particularly impressed by how well Henrichon develops the facial expressions of the animals – it’s not always easy getting emotions across via a lion’s face, but Henrichon does it easily.
It’s not just the lions that Vaughan does nice work with, characterization-wise, he also has a great deal of other animals involved in the story, and he does his clear best to have them all be as unique as possible, voice-wise.
I especially enjoy the way that Vaughan delivers the various ethical views of the animals – he manages to allow the various animals to express ethical concerns while still clearly being animalistic – they can feel regret and shame, but then also think nothing of tearing into another creature for food. It’s really an impressive job by Vaughan shaping this world of animals.
And boy, is the setting sure interesting – Baghdad during the opening days of the war? Explosions and basically no people – that’s the world these animals explore – it’s both inspiring and shocking.
There’s a really good scene where the lions talk to a turtle (who has been around for a looooooong time) and we get more views about the effects that man has had upon animal life – and as you might guess, it’s not a positive effect for the most part.
This is a strong, heartfelt work with a group of characters that it’s not hard to identify with (even though they’re, you know, lions), drawn by an excellent artist. This is a good book.