Jake Halpern


Welcome to the New World


In the fall of 2016, I was commissioned by the New York Times to do a nonfiction graphic novel, which would tell the story of a refugee family from Syria. 

 It would run weekly in the Sunday Review.  I jumped on the idea and soon teamed up with the illustrator, Michael Sloan.  My goal was to find a family that was still in the Middle East.  I wanted to be there on the very day that they arrived in the United States.  With the help of a refugee resettlement agency, I found -- two brothers -- who were arriving on Election Day with their families.  So, on the evening of November 8th, instead of going to an election party, I hung out in a parking lot, waiting for the families to arrive.  I was part of the team that welcomed them to America.  When they arrived, they were dazed, overwhelmed, ebullient, and also a little sad -- because they had to leave several of their family members behind in Jordan.  Then, the next day, Donald Trump won the election.  In effect, the family landed in one country, and woke up the next morning in another.  My series, entitled "Welcome to the New World," follows their ongoing lives in America.

The best way to read the comic is on the New York Times website. They created a beautiful online comic book.

My editor, Bruce Headlam, wrote a lovely story about how my comic came to be. Read about it in the Times Insider.