By Joe Sacco

I’m struck by this book’s unique form: Sacco uses “short-form comics journalism to report from conflict zones around the world.” It’s generically categorized as a “graphic novel”, but is actually something quite different!

With “darkly funny, revealing reportage”, this collection of short reported pieces covers things like The Hague (war crimes trials), the War in Gaza, the Chechen War, the Iraq War, Sub-Saharan refugees, and India’s “untouchables”.

The preface touches on many topics worth considering when it comes to visual storytelling and journalism: the subjectivity of the medium, how such work interacts with journalistic obligations to truth (“essential truth” vs. “literal truth”), imagination and depiction and accuracy, and the journalist as “character” in the work.

Most of the work is informed by the conventions of traditional comics: panels, strips, the occasional full-page scene-setting drawing. Some of the pieces are short (~ 6 pages); some are long and multi-part (40+ pages). Each section ends with a page of notes and comments

The first two short pieces are in color; all the rest are in black and white. The latter seem somehow more journalistic, more neutral in what they depict; I’m not sure exactly why but I suspect this small degree of greater abstraction makes it easier to visualize and add in detail yourself.

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