This story is drawn from “Kushinagar,” which appeared originally in French in XXI, no. 13, January/February/March 2011, and will appear in English in Joe Sacco’s new collection Journalism, to be published by Metropolitan Books on June 19. As Sacco writes, explaining how he came to draw a comic based on his travels in Kushinagar, a district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh:
The extraordinarily successful French magazine XXI is the publishing industry’s greatest champion of comics reportage. It has regularly sent cartoonists out into the world and given them a good deal of magazine space. Editor Patrick de Saint-Exupery, a seasoned journalist himself, was open to any idea I had and supportive at every step of the way. The author Pankaj Mishra passed me along to Indian journalist Piyush Srivastava, who suggested I visit Kushinagar and who graciously agreed to be my guide. We met in Lucknow, where he is based, and drove for a day to reach the district, where many of the dalits—“untouchables”—are experiencing not just abject poverty but real hunger. After three visits to the same hamlet, Piyush and I were essentially chased out of the area by higher caste individuals who did not like us snooping around. We decided to visit other villages, but briefly, for no more than a couple hours each, to avoid the same result.