“How to Survive a Shooting” chronicled Stingley’s story: coping with the loss of her daughter, being a loving mother to her two sons, and becoming an anti-violence activist in the face of apparent apathy. In a sense, it was a dismayingly familiar narrative—in a city plagued by violence, we’ve heard similar tales before. But Holliday and Rodriguez sought to bring the story to life through their choice of format: “comics journalism,” the shorthand term for reported nonfiction told through sequential art.

They nailed it. Stingley’s words, rendered alongside Rodriguez’s illustrations, are heartbreaking in a way few written articles or even videos achieve; a panel about her being woken from a dream about her slain daughter by the barking of the family dog is indelible. The piece received tons of attention, and eventually snagged a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia in the category, “Outside-the-Box: Innovation/Format Buster.”

“I’ve written a whole lot of crime stories, you know. People would usually give it like 20 seconds to scan it,” Holliday says. “But package it up with the comics, and it’s like you’ve never heard it before. The same people will read the story all the way to the end. It can become that bridge.”

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