After escaping a Syrian prison, Ibrahim Aldabaan and his family fled the country to seek protection in America. Among the few refugees to receive visas, they finally landed in JFK airport on November 8, 2016, Election Day. The family had reached a safe harbor, but woke up to the world of Donald Trump and a Muslim ban that would sever them from the grandmother, brothers, sisters, and cousins stranded in exile in Jordan. Welcome to the New World tells the Aldabaans' story.
This real-life story is remarkable for many reasons, including the groundbreaking context of its publication: It appeared week after week in the Sunday Review under the rubric of 'Opinion' ... an engaging narrative between covers that offers an even more intimate look at the Aldabaan family’s struggles, both personal and bureaucratic, to make their lives work in America ... Sloan and Halpern deliver a story that fully inhabits its comics form, and breathes with an easy visual elegance ... Sloan, an accomplished illustrator who also creates his own comics, organizes simple but powerful layouts to emphasize emotion, and his loose, fluid black line, minimal but energetic, lives on pages colored exclusively with blue ... The 'world' of the title [...] refers not only to a new social environment and a new way of life, but also to the devastated state of contemporary affairs that produces the flight of refugees globally.
Welcome to the New World is a somewhat earnest book, one that prioritises education over entertainment. But its granular, journalistic approach does take you to places rarely imagined in terms of the refugee experience – and in this sense, at least, their narrative is truly thought-provoking.
This perceptive work of graphic journalism from Halpern (Bad Paper) and Sloan (Zen of Nimbus series) expands on their Pulitzer-winning New York Times series ... Some elements of the story are all too familiar among immigrant narratives—the humiliation of scrounging for work, terrifying encounters with racist harassment—but Halpern and Sloan’s smart use of humorous and heart-wrenching details particularize the family’s story while effectively conveying their political message ... Sloan’s loose-lined art is simple but evocative both in poignant and playful scenes. For readers raised on Persepolis, this moving documentary portrait hits home.