“As with my trip to Burma [in March], it seems that — because of ‘A.D.’ — I am being invited to showcase the cultural freedoms of American society, especially in comparison to the more authoritarian-style policies of the countries I’ll be visiting,” writes Neufeld, who leaves today for the Middle East and North Africa as part of the U.S. Speaker and Specialist Program. His three-week tour includes Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain and “a country to be named later.”
A.D.- AFTER THE DELUGE is Neufeld’s graphic novel on Hurricane Katrina, telling the story of survivors of the tragedy. Neufeld is no stranger to traveling, having previously written and drawn A FEW PERFECT HOURS about his backpacking adventures with now wife Sari.
The State Department invited me “specifically because of the Katrina book, which is blatantly so critical of the government,” Neufeld tells Comic Riffs of his comics reportage. “The program brings in cultural figures who disseminate [this message] — the State Department is proud of that freedom of expression. … They bring me over as a statement of how our civil society welcomes voices of dissent in all forms.”