Joe Sacco


Journalism

 

Review by Matthew Nielsen 

Journalism by Joe Sacco is another intense and shocking book by journalist-cartoonist Joe Sacco. It is a collection of true stories from around the world, including former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Iraq, Malta, India and more.

One or two stories are in colour but the rest is in Sacco’s stunning black and white. His illustrations rarely have gradients and are instead cross-hatched and shaded through line art. The flow of the speech bubbles telling detailed stories, with artwork equally as detailed and full of all shades of life, makes for an amazing reading experience. The people we meet in Journalism and the self-analytical nature of Sacco’s writing bring many things to the reader’s attention about the world and, perhaps, about their own place in the world as well.

It is difficult for me to choose a definite favourite story as they are all fascinating. However one I’d like to briefly describe is one in which Sacco interviews various people in Malta regarding their views on the influx of numerous refugees and immigrants. As he is a Maltese-American as well as a determined journalist, Sacco is able to cover many points of view whilst asking various vital questions in order to present a wider picture of the situation. Not only does Sacco interview local Maltese but he also interviews refugees and immigrants, and we hear of the problems and concerns of all sides.

Some of these stories get very heavy, but so much of reality is heavy that truth should not be ignored purely because of its intensity. Perhaps this book sounds like your cup of tea? If not for the stories, then you should definitely check it out for the artwork. Some elements are stylized, some elements are more realistic, but either way, it’s quite incredible.

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Palestine

Reviewed by Matthew Nielsen

Palestine by Joe Sacco takes place in occupied Palestine and is set over the course of two and half months in the winter of 1991-1992 (around the end of the Second Intifada). This graphic novel is a fusion of journalism and comics that explores the country through a series of experiences, interviews, and slices of everyday life during the time Sacco stayed in Israel and Palestine. If you’re looking to hear a Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestine conflict as told by a Maltese-American journalist-cartoonist, then this is your chance.

I feel that the journey Sacco takes in this book is told well and in great detail. Not just in the words written, but in the cartoons drawn. The way people are portrayed is quite stylized and caricature, but as the book goes along, the art begins to feel a bit more realistic as the mind adapts to it. The style really works well in many scenes, conveying the numerous feelings that take place throughout the book. Furthermore, inanimate objects such as vehicles, weapons, landmarks, etc., are often drawn with strong detail and remarkable accuracy.

Palestine: The Special Edition adds 32 additional pages that provide a very informative “Behind the Scenes” sort of deal. I find this sort of thing fascinating. In these extra pages Sacco expores numerous things, such as his experience in Cairo before heading into Palestine, times he was scammed, and excerpts from his journal.

I tend to skip introductions until after I read the whole book first. I have found time and again that introductions (and even the synopsis, at least in the case of an edition of All Quiet on the Western Front) can contain major spoilers, damaging the biggest thrill of reading a story first-time. It’s certainly true with the introduction to Palestine. So just a head’s up there.

All in all, as a great piece of writing and artwork, I recommend this graphic novel. When it comes to Palestine as a piece of politics, that’s up to you. For more information, visit the website for Joe Sacco’s Palestine.

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