Palestine by Joe Sacco


Joe Sacco is a journalist and cartoonist, well-known for merging reportage with visual storytelling.  If anyone knows me well, this is my man.  On top of that, he lives in Portland.  Don’t think he could get any cooler!

Palestine is a graphic novel documenting Sacco’s 2-month experience interviewing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza during the first intifada.  It illustrates the power of visual journalism through in-depth interviews and cultural immersion as it covers a complex, nuanced issue.

Sacco leverages hard reporting, hundreds of interviews, and personal refugee camp experiences to document Palestine and the spirit of its people – from seeing Palestinians hurl rocks at Israeli soldiers, to staying in Palestinian hosts’ homes for days without a change of clothes.  Sacco’s reporting is complemented by powerful images drawn from his notes and sketchbooks, creating a fluid storyline, and ultimately almost a print version of a film documentary.  Sacco is less interested in getting the scoop, and more receptive to finding stories that will resonate long after breaking news has faded — and this is probably what draws me to his work (aside from the visual stuff, of course).

I love how he isn’t afraid to get his hands and boots dirty, as he digs in deep to let that environment sink in.  He truly captures the personalities of every person he meets there, often in just one or two comic panels.  He seems to cover nearly all aspects of Palestinian life and the conflict, from clashes between Israeli soldiers and the teenagers who hurl rocks in the muddy streets; the way prisoners create societal order within prisons; the different types of torture inflicted in these prisons; the way rain pours in through holes in the roofs of refugee camp huts; the way Palestinians all gather in shabby living rooms to guzzle down tea and discuss their woes; to the perspective and opinions of European-like Israelis living in the big cities, such as Jerusalem.

Like I said, Joe Sacco is my man.


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