Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reader's Diary #480- Joe Sacco: War's End, Profiles From Bosnia 1995-96

Two books I read for the Graphic Novels Challenge earlier this year had testimonial blurbs from Joe Sacco: Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Rutu Modan's Exit Wounds. In the case of Satrapi, I found it a little strange. I'd actually heard of her; shouldn't she be quoted on a Sacco book, not the other way around? Apparently though, Sacco's Palestine was a critics favourite much earlier. I'm new to this realm so I didn't know.

While they didn't have Palestine at the library, they did have his War's End, a double comic containing "Sabo," about a Sarajevan artist/soldier, and "Christmas With Karadzic," about tracking down and interviewing the then Bosnian Serb leader.

Both of these were very well drawn, favouring a somewhat realistic style of cartoon (with the exception of drawing those eyeless glasses as worn by Marcy in Peanuts comics). One notable difference between "Soba" and "Christmas With Karadzic" is the shading. In "Soba" Sacco uses hatching, while in "Christmas With Karadzic" he uses some sort of smudging (you can tell how little art training I have!) that resembles painting in grayscale. "Soba" definitely looks like it was more time consuming, but I can't say that I really favoured one over the other. "Christmas With Karadzic" reminded me, artistically, of Dave Berg's "The Lighter Side of..." gags in old MAD Magazines.

Plot wise, the comics come across more as documentaries than stories. "Soba" paints a very intriguing portrait of a artist that contemplates what the war has done to him, while "Christmas With Karadzic," having a little more of a story arc, follows Sacco and two other reporters trying to interview the elusive Radovan Karadzic at Christmas. When they finally track him down, Sacco wonders why he can't summon up the rage he typically feels towards the racist and murderous leader. Sacco comes from a journalism background and it shows in these two pieces.

I'm looking forward to reading more Sacco books in the future.


gautami tripathy said...

I have both the part of Persepolis in one single volume. I won it in a giveaway. And that is my only foray into the graphic novel genre unless you count the Asterix and Tintins I have devoured in their entirity LONG time ago.

I ought to check out more of graphic novels. Manga too!!

Remi said...

Your comic art knowledge is still far ahead of mine. All I learned about comic book art I learned from watching Kevin Smith's flick Chasing Amy.

I miss Mad magazine. Far too few lit mags come with foldable back covers.

J.S. Peyton said...

I actually heard of Sacco before I heard of Satrapi. I read a lot of Sacco's shorter works which were included in anthologies like "The Best American Nonrequired Reading." His drawings are great, aren't they? "Palestine" has been on my TBR list for a while now, as well as the one in which he visits North Korea. "Persepolis" has been on my shelf for entirely too long.

John Mutford said...

Gautami: I only started reading graphic novels this year, but I'm hooked.

Remi: I've never seen Chasing Amy. Kind of want to now though.

Jill: I removed your comment. I would have left it in had you left it at "Karadzic is not a war criminal." Please don't think I censored that part. I know so little about him or that part of history and what I have heard I have no idea if it's true, a guess, or false. I removed it because of the rest of your comment. Plug your book or "evidence" if you want but please do so with a simple link rather than pages and pages of comments.

J.S.: While the artwork in Persepolis doesn't compare to Sacco's, the story itself was more compelling than this one.