Oil and Water

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NUMBER OF PAGES

143

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED

December 2011

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Oil and Water is smart, informative and completely engaging. We experience the disaster through the eyes of Duin and Wheeler’s richly developed, beautifully illustrated characters and the result is a stunning graphic novel not to be missed.” – Jeff Lemire

• 2014 Oregon Book Awards – Pacific Northwest College of Art Graphic Literature Award Finalist

• Ranked #5 on
Comics Bulletin’s Top Ten Best Graphic Novels of 2011

When ten Oregonians travel to the Gulf Coast in August 2010 to plumb the devastation wrought by the Deepwater Horizon spill, they discover that “Oil and Water” is just the first of the insoluble contradictions. Between the tarred sands of Grand Isle and the fouled waters of the Louisiana bayou, they come to find out that Gulf Coast residents are economically dependent upon the very industry that is wreaking havoc on their environment. In the shadow of the greatest ecological disaster of our time, they are forced to reassess their roles as witness, critic and environmental steward.

In this graphic novel — written by Steve Duin, a columnist for
The Oregonian, and illustrated by Eisner-winning New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler — readers will tour the shark-pocked beach at Grand Isle with the local head of Homeland Security; step aboard the crabbing boat of a 20-year-old Mississippian who works 16-hour days and spends his nights dreaming of M.I.T.; enter the “Hot Zone” where volunteers work desperately to save brown pelicans drenched in British petroleum; and hear shrimpers, Vietnamese and good ol’ boys alike, describe what happens to their livelihood when 200 million gallons of oil flood the scene. The readers’ perspective on what hope and what mission remains along a ravaged coastline, and one awash in both seafood and oil, will be changed as irrevocably as that of these ten Oregonians.

Listed in
The Independent’s 10 Best Non-Fiction Graphic Books

“A stunning exploration of the effect of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico.” –
 The Independent

“Duin and Wheeler offer a penetrating perspective on what many considered to be the worst environmental disaster in United States history. With a resolutely unsentimental voice, they capture many of the complex and deep tragedies of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon event in post-Katrina coastal Louisiana. Through accessible images and writing, they portray the spirit of real people in real places imperiled by a disaster of global proportions. As a documentary of visiting, engaging and learning from these communities, their work illustrates how Louisiana and its people are defining the legacy (writ large) of energy and the environment in contemporary society.” – Dr. Michael J. Blum, Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University

Oil and Water by Steve Duin and Shannon Wheeler proves the graphic novel’s strength as a powerful medium for telling captivating stories and rallying for social justice. With vivid illustrations, likeable characters and witty dialogue, the book shares the aftermath of the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history... Their harrowing encounters and experiences in the gulf reveal that the real issue is our dependence on oil, and if we’re not careful, the oil hot shots will continue to win. Educational, entertaining and brutally honest, Oil and Water tells the story of the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill like you’ve never heard it before.” – Emily Buchholtz, Wend

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REVIEWS

Booklist

•Literary review magazine

“[T]he work effectively sets forth the essential dilemma: the region’s economy remains dependent on the very industry that ravaged the coast; and the “hush money” paid by BP in the wake of the disaster ensures that most residents continue to see oil as the solution to their woes rather than the problem.”

Joe Sacco

•Creator of Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza

“Reporter Steve Duin and cartoonist Shannon Wheeler visited Louisiana to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, and their legwork shows. By contrasting the perspectives of out-of-state do-gooders and hard-bitten locals, Duin and Wheeler tell a nuanced story that goes a long way to evoking what the catastrophe means to those who still live with it.”

The Comics Reporter

•Comics website and blog

“The handsome Fantagraphics volume details a trip in which Duin participated where a coalition of community members from one part of the country were brought to another part of the country – in this case, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – in order to bear witness to what they see and assure any locals with whom they come into contact that they're not isolated or alone in terms of the discomfit and discombobulation they're experiencing. I was impressed with its light touch and laid-back rhythms.”