cover image Oil and Water

Oil and Water

Steve Duin and Shannon Wheeler. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-60699-492-4

A newspaper columnist for the Oregonian and the cartoonist best known for Too Much Coffee Man visited Louisiana in August 2010 to view the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Their resulting journallike comics are based on the mixed feelings the inhabitants have toward the oil business (responsible for keeping many of them in food and housing) and the hippie “do-gooders” such as the creators worrying about the emotional state of those they’ve come to observe. The moments captured can be affecting, but not enough context is given for those who, with the typical American short-term memory, no longer recall much about the event and its effects. We’re also not introduced well to the fellow travelers, even though they reappear throughout, making their reactions less powerful than they could have been. One of them gets lost early on, but we never find out how, when, or where she rejoined the group. While the portraits are lovely, this well-meaning project is much less successful than intended, since there isn’t enough information for the reader to seize onto or recall five minutes after reading. (Dec.)