The beginning: Comics are so short when they’re a single volume! This format feels a little silly for such a short comic. But never mind. I like this format and I’m sticking with it unless you beg me to stop. Once upon a time in Pride of Baghdad (Amazon, B&N, Book Depository), there are four lions (three adults and a cub) living in a zoo in Baghdad, and the zoo gets blown up by American bombs. The lions, who have lived in captivity most (or all) of their lives, must learn to fend for themselves in a war-torn Iraq.
The end (highlight blank spaces for spoilers): They all die. Saw that coming.
The whole: Very shiny but not much substance, I thought. The art, by Niko Henrichon, is gorgeous. The full-page spreads are really stunning. I want to find more comics Niko Henrichon has done so I can have more of this beautiful art. Wikipedia claims that Niko Henrichon did a step-by-step guide to making Pride of Baghdad, but the link they provide doesn’t lead to such a guide. Sadly. I would read that guide twice. Look how pretty.
The story, though, seemed thin. This may be another manifestation of my stated fondness for novels over short stories, TV shows over movies. Given more time to develop its themes, Pride of Baghdad could have been really interesting. As it is, it feels rushed and heavy-handed.
I did like the very end though. Not the bit where the lions all get shot, even the baby, but the full-page spreads that follow, which are both beautiful (Niko Henrichon!) and critical, in an economical way, of the casualties of war.
(Do I feel silly putting obvious stuff in spoiler highlights? I do. But the concept of spoilers is so bewildering to me in a fundamental way that it doesn’t feel that different from usual. SPOILERS ARE BETTER.)
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