To this day, the images are haunting: entire neighborhoods submerged by toxic water, bodies packed into the Superdome like sardines. Seeing them rendered in a comic book—dialogue balloons filled with cries of anguish, inked and colored corpses—is, as it turns out, no less horrifying. But that's what makes "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge," a 14-part Web comic series about Hurricane Katrina, so good. The brainchild of New York cartoonist Josh Neufeld and Smith Magazine, "A.D." tells the story of six real-life New Orleanians who survived: a couple in their 20s; a sixth-generation native; an Iranian-born supermarket owner; a high-school student, and a local doctor. The series culminates this month with the hurricane's third anniversary, and hits bookstores next year with a contract from Pantheon.
"A.D." is raw and painful—down to the detailed depictions of ruined homes and the frenzied dialogue among friends. It reaches a climax in chapter 13 (above), with army vehicles whizzing past the frail and thirsty, crying children and a dying old woman. The language, too, is authentic—and foulmouthed—which is in part what makes it all so powerful. "It's one thing to imagine what happened, and to hear these stories from people you've never met," says Neufeld. "But I really tried to make these characters real people you feel like you knew." For many New Orleanians, the story hits all too close to home.