An Exclusive Excerpt From The Next Issue of Symbolia: “Laura” And Women’s Experiences At Guantanamo

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how the web, which initially became a vehicle for extremely short-form journalism and blogging, has become a refuge for long-form journalism through projects like Pro Publica, which partners with legacy publications on investigative journalism, and publishing platforms and apps like Atavis. One of my favorites is Symbolia, a digital magazine where authors do journalism through comics in themed issues. The publishers of Symbolia have been kind enough to let me publish an exclusive excerpt of “Heroines,” Symbolia’s latest issue, which features five first-person narratives from women around the world. In the story I’m reprinting here, we get to hear from Laura Sandow, a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served at GITMO, which morphed from a sleepy naval base to an infamous detention center during her time there. It’s fascinating not just to read Laura’s words about her attempts to process her role in the War on Terror, and how military culture has affected her emotional and mental health, but to see her experiences.

Laura’s story is a collaboration between Sarah Mirk, who interviewed her, Lucy Bellwood, who illustrated the interview, and of course, Laura herself. To read the rest of her story, and to meet other veterans, bellydancers, and survivors of human trafficking, you can download (and subscribe to) Symbolia on iPad, via PDF, and for Kindle. And for more information about Symbolia in general, visit