safe area: gorazde, by joe sacco

This is the kind of work that makes my head turn inside out, a bit. The amount of knowledge, personal danger, painstaking work and openness required to produce Joe Sacco’s journalistic graphic novel of the war in Bosnia is mind-boggling. There’s no way I can possibly provide an adequate summary here, but I admire this book so much and I wanted to at least present it as a recommended read. The subtitle of Safe Area: Gorazde is The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-95; that’s as succinct as anyone could possibly be about the subject matter, but it doesn’t convey how personal the book feels. It’s terribly human. Intricate and expressive black and white drawings owe a stylistic debt to R. Crumb, but also have an unavoidable plainness and confrontation that are all Sacco’s. Intimate, painful, informative and generous. Also look for Palestine, his graphic novel that won the American Book Award in 1996. Drawn & Quarterly has published his collection of graphic short stories called The Fixer, and I believe he also has a graphic novel out about Gaza. All of which makes me even more mind-boggled and grateful for Sacco’s storytelling generosity.

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