We sometimes joke that parenting can be hell…but this month, Marvel and ABC have been quietly showing us what a real parent can do in a truly unimaginable situation in Madaya Mom. A family in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, kept anonymous for their own protection, have been sending text messages to journalists at ABC News. Those texts – and the blog reporting them – have become the basis of a harrowing digital comic that tells the stories of a mother’s daily struggle to keep her family alive.
The comic is short but powerful. The art is spare and spares nothing. The palette switch between past and present are especially effective. Dalibor Talajić’s work reverbrates with intimacy and energy – and with good reason. He is Croatian and was 18 years old when Yugoslavia collapsed into war. His personal connection to this story shines through his exacting, tightly controlled visuals. This work makes the ongoing siege of Madaya, and war in all of Syria, seem especially immediate and present – as it certainly is to the families trapped with in. The text, expertly selected and framed by reporters Xana O’Neill and Rym Momtaz, is direct and unflinching. This team brings the war home.
Images: Marvel Comics
I’m not sure what to do – what can any of us do in the face of this? Madaya Mom offers no happy endings, not even the shadow of hope. In an interview with The Guardian, Talajic said that, “I was hoping to help people realize that we really don’t care. This might, maybe, get someone to care.” Mission accomplished, sir. Marvel already printed a limited number of copies of Madaya Mom #1 for New York Comic Con. ABC has a teacher’s guide and lots of video and articles to support the text. This book belongs in every classroom right now.
If any of you have any ideas, I’m game. I, for one, will certainly be sharing this with my students. If we can do nothing else, at least we can keep paying attention.