Comic “Journalism” by Joe Sacco

“Journalism” by Joe Sacco  (2012)  –  190 pages

 Here is something new and different.  Usually comics are light, humorous takes on life.  However these comics by Joe Sacco are deadly serious.

 Joe Sacco goes to the worst trouble spots in the world, interviews people there, and then writes comics about them to enlighten people on what’s really going on.  Sacco calls his work ‘comic journalism’.  Although he realizes that comics by their very nature are subjective, he attempts to present an honest picture of each situation.  In each of these volatile situations there are the powerful and the weak, and in many cases, they become the oppressors and the oppressed.   

 Here are the trouble spots covered in this book.

The war crimes trials at The Hague to sort out the atrocities committed during the Bosnian War

         The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in Hebron

         The displacement of refugees from Chechnya during the war there   

         The Iraq War

         The African migration to Malta

         The plight of the Dalits (formerly the Untouchables) in India

 “Journalism” was remedial reading for me.  I must admit that I don’t keep up on what’s going on in these troubled areas of the world.  I spend my time reading mostly fiction which is more enjoyable for me.  I suppose there is a natural tendency to avoid these desperate situations.  This book is a relatively painless way for one to keep informed, much less difficult than reading newspaper or magazine articles.

 “Underneath the India of billionaires and Bollywood stars, the India whose growth rate rivals China’s, is a country in which more than three-quarters of the population – 836 million people – live on less than half a dollar a day and where the prevalence of underweight children is nearly double of Sub-Saharan Africa.

I had no idea.

 The United States is included in these comics with three articles about the Iraq War.  Two of these articles have never been published in the United States before.  The last of these articles is about two Iraqi businessmen who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against former US Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld that alleges “torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment” while they were in US military custody.

 The longest comic – 48 pages – is called “The Unwanted”, and it is about the many fleeing African refugees who wind up in Malta, an island just south of Italy. This is one crisis area with which I was totally unfamiliar. This story probably had special meaning for Joe Sacco, since he is a Maltese-American.  He frequently includes drawings of himself as he is interviewing the various people for his stories.

 These comic strips are a good way to keep up with the world.


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