Cartoon Movement has been knocking it out of the park lately with short comic about topical issues — it’s the home of the Occupy Sketchbooks and a number of other thought-provoking pieces of journalism done in the comics medium. Now Josh Neufeld has a new comic up there, Bahrain: Lines in Ink, Lines in the Sand, that tells the story of the recent unrest in Bahrain from the point of view of two cartoonists.
Neufeld starts out with his own visit to Bahrain, which struck him as a peaceful and progressive country. “I didn’t sense any underlying tensions,” he says, but the very next page shows how much he missed. What began as peaceful demonstrations against the government quickly turned ugly as long-buried resentments came to the surface. There had been rifts, chiefly between the Sunni and Shia, that Neufeld had not seen on his trip (which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State).
Neufeld resists the temptation to boil this down to a simple tale. The two cartoonists he met on his trip have very different perspectives on the unrest, and he allows both to tell their stories, even including their cartoons in his comic. The result is a sad tale of how a country that seemed stable and peaceful could fracture along political and religious lines — and of the consequences that has for its people.