In March, Grist published a comic with The Bitter Southerner and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP) about Kentucky landslide victims and their struggles to receive disaster relief. Written by Austyn Gaffney and illustrated by Martha Park, the story detailed the struggle of one family, the Bakers, to repair their damaged home. Now, thanks to funding from EHRP, the comic will be distributed in print to Kentuckians.

Appalachians for Appalachia, a nonprofit based in Hazard, Kentucky – a focal point in the story  – will be the main distributor. The organization plans to give out more than 500 copies at their summer events. In addition, the Appalachian Citizens Law Center will use the print comic as an educational tool by offering it to residents who were impacted by landslides and are seeking legal aid. Park will also share copies as a speaker at the Kentucky Geological Survey’s annual seminar later this month, when she will deliver a presentation about using comics to tell the stories of geohazards and natural disasters. The story has already been broadcast through interviews on regional outlets like Kentucky’s Eastern Standard and West Virginia’s Inside Appalachia

“We hope that with the print distribution of our story, we’ll see even more impact,” said Gaffney. “While folks have been impacted quietly by landslides for years, the comic has drummed up attention across the region for the bodily and financial risks these disasters pose to residents who have few options both before and after a slide.” 

“I’m honored to have had the chance to work with Austyn on this comic, and I’m excited for the possibilities that illustration holds for bringing nuanced, complicated stories like this to life for readers,” said Park. 

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“Martha and Austyn’s informative and compelling comic will get the word out about a topic that often receives scant attention in the press. EHRP is proud to support their work,” said David Wallis, managing director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Grist often co-publishes stories with other newsrooms in order to reach wider audiences, and that was important for the comic. 

“This is an incredible and important story, and I’m so proud of all the work Austyn and Martha put into this piece to bring the prevalence of landslides and the people they impact — such as the Bakers — to light,” said Rachel Priest, assistant editor at The Bitter Southerner. “We’ve had the honor to work with both Austyn and Martha on many prior projects at The Bitter Southerner, and I’ve always admired the passion, dedication, and detail they put into their stories, this one being no different. We’re excited to see the continued impact this story will have to move our region, and the world, forward.”

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