This is sort of a good news-bad news post. The good news is that Joe Sacco’s latest comic Kushinagar is available online, for free, thanks to the Indian “narrative journalism” magazine The Caravan. Sacco, who perfected the art of journalistic comics in works like Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde and Footnotes in Gaza, has shifted his focus in this comic from war to the everyday struggles of the Dalit (members of the caste once known as the untouchables) in a rural village in Uttar Pradesh.
The bad news is that the comic is embedded in a Flash-based reader that is balky and slow to load, so reading it is going to take some time. It was buggy in my Safari browser and wouldn’t load at all in Chrome. It’s worth the wait, though: The comic is an eye-opening look at the inequality that still exists in India and the castes-within-castes that rank people — and give some power over others — in a system that is difficult to change.