A cartoonist follows reporters across the Middle East, learning about journalism and how stories are told
Cartoonist Sarah Glidden follows up her acclaimed debut, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, with Rolling Blackouts, which details her two-month long journey through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Glidden accompanies her two friends—reporters and founders of the journalistic non-profit The Seattle Globalist—as they research stories on the Iraq War’s effect on the Middle East and, specifically, the war’s refugees. Joining them is a former Marine and childhood friend of one of the journalists whose deployment to Iraq in 2007 adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come across and perhaps even themselves.
The crew works their way through the region with the goal of asking civilians, refugees, and officials: “who are you?” Everyone has a story to tell: the Iranian blogger, the United Nations Refugee administrator, a taxi driver, the Iraqi refugee deported from the US, the Iraqis seeking refuge in Syria, and even the American Marine. The journalists struggle equally with how to tell these stories and with how to market them into articles people will want to read.
Glidden records all that she encounters with a sympathetic and searching eye—What is journalism? What is its purpose? What is honesty? Painted in her trademark soft muted watercolors and written with a self-effacing humor, Rolling Blackouts cements Glidden’s place as one of comics’ most original nonfiction voices.