graphic journalism [book review]

Joe Sacco has done a pretty amazing thing with Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995, by merging journalism and the comic medium.

The difference between this book and Brooklyn Dreams, from an autobiographical slant, is that Sacco does all of his own artwork as well. For one thing, he draws himself in a very unappealing light: small and slouched, with huge glasses and thick, wet lips. I recall one image of him laughing, the spit flying fast and furious. I can only think that it’s a counter-swing to the obvious inclination to draw/write oneself in the most positive light possible. Perhaps he makes himself believable (trustable?) by drawing himself in such a way. Or maybe it’s a way of not absolving or distancing himself from the ugliness of the situation in which he finds himself and he writes himself, as he draws himself, unflatteringly.

This is an amazing book and an excellent example of the power that the comic medium has for conveying depth of feeling while simultaneously providing large amounts of information. It’s frustrating to me how often this particular medium is underestimated and disrespected. (Though maybe that’s changing? Also, I’m one to talk: not writing about the “comic books” on my website. Sheesh.)

Apparently, Sacco’s also written a few other books as well. He wrote a book about Palestine, in the Gorazde vein, as well as his most recent book: Notes from a Defeatist, which is apparently a collection of his early short work.

Here’s an interview with Sacco; he describes, among other things, how he got into Gorazde as a member of the UN press corps.


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