The “Pride of Baghdad” strives for a realistic feel with its artwork. Compared to the other reads of the class, mission accomplished. The artwork adds to the exotic feel of the location. Niko Henrichon’s ability to humanize these animals is amazing for a sophomore graphic novel artist. Looking at his panels of a war-torn Baghdad is almost eerily identical to the television coverage we were all witness to. The art truly gives us an outsider’s perspective of the Iraq War.
This graphic novel reminds me of novels like Animal House and Watership Down. Like Maus, they use animals to deal with a serious story. The tag line states fact, “in 2003 a pride of starving lions escaped the Baghdad Zoo.” This story however is more than it seems. It seems to parallel what the newly Iraqi people had to be feeling, “Who’s going to feed us? Who’s going to protect us?” Why does this piece work in this format? Magic! The perfect story mixed with amazing visuals. Can this be translated to film, perhaps as an animated movie? Maybe, but as an animated film there is something lost when it is to a medium that has become synonymous with children’s entertainment.
This is a story narrated by the four main characters. Throughout the story the pride separates and reunites after facing their tribulations. We cannot be everywhere all the time, but the fact this is a comic book allows us to without breaking the emotional attachment we have with the characters.
I do not wish to spoil the ending of this piece, because I truly hope you will read it. Therefore, I have chosen a different scene to write about. Sofa is the scarred jaded lioness. Her life before the zoo was difficult to say the least. She remembers an event from that time when she was raped by “foreign” lions, which is profound moment in the book. The art and the words work together harmoniously to humanize this “woman.” It makes her situation relatable to us the reader. The dark sparse savannah setting helps show us the solitude of this woman during the ordeal. This experience lets us know her motivations once the zoo became collateral damage in the Iraq War.