After a six-week trip to the Congo in 2010, reporter David Axe developed a long magazine article that would eventually serve as a script for Army of God: Joseph Kony’s War in Central Africa, a work of nonfiction graphic journalism. DOMINIC UMILE reports
Congo Horrors Reported Graphically for ‘Army of God’
Illustrated by Brooklyn, New York-based comics artist Tim Hamilton, Army of God tells the story of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group, a morally corrupt militia that has moved into northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo and has terrorized the people of the region after having been chased out of Uganda by the Ugandan army in 2005. The LRA is governed by a fundamentalist Christian named Joseph Kony, whose principles don’t resemble any known brand of Christianity. Thousands have been killed at the hands of Kony’s army, a pack of violent thugs and rapists, the number of which has been estimated to top out at 600.
Tim Hamilton’s page composition for Patricia’s narrative is drafted as if drawn from several camera angles, with bird’s eye shots, rich close-ups, and dense long shots set in patches of thick tree trunks and the surrounding jungle’s bushy, blacked-out perimeter. Small packs of trembling children huddle in the neighboring brush. The look of horror on each adolescent face is distinctively heart-wrenching, their cleanly defined features owing to Hamilton’s thin brushwork. There are darkened tents and silhouetted fighters, each carrying machine guns or machetes. Hamilton often worked with silhouettes for the hallucinatory sequences in his Eisner-nominated adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Blackening a good portion of panels in Fahrenheit countered the book’s otherwise flashy color palette, drawing attention to the artist’s stylish blend of abstractions and buttoned-up realism. Army of God‘s silhouettes and shadowing, on the other hand, keep the blunt nightmare in focus while offering Hamilton an opportunity to exercise tactful restraint in the account’s more disturbing depictions.
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