Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art by: Niko Henrichon
In 2003, during an American bombing of Baghdad, the Baghdad zoo suffered extensive damage. Many animals escaped to wander the nearby area including a pride of four lions who lived for a short time in the city.
Never would I have thought of using this event for the basis of a graphic novel. Luckily, Brian K Vaughan did think of doing just this, involving Niko Henrichon on the book as artist. What came out of this partnership is a book that is both beatiful and chilling.
Pride of Baghdad is a story made up of layers. The simplest interpretation is one of four lions left to wander a city with freedom they did not earn and seem destined to have taken away from them. The lions are fascinating characters in their own right, and their personalities contrast and compliment each other, highlighting the fine details of the situation they’re in. Beneath that is an examination of the war and of the short-lived freedom that the Baghdadi citizens enjoyed after the American liberation, before the marked decline in their quality of life.
Henrichon’s art is stunning, page after page. The colours are perfect, the images breathtaking, thrilling and disturbing depending. I could simply look through this book for hours, admiring each page.
I put off reading this book for a long time, all because I was convinced I would find it heart-wrenching I wasn’t wrong, and that is a testament to the brilliant and involving story and art. I found myself breathless as I came closer to the end of this book, a feeling that hasn’t dissipated on re-reads. Go, please go, buy this book. It really shows just how amazing a graphic novel can be.