Sacco’s investigative-reporting war comic book

The LA Times interviews Joe Sacco on his latest book “Footnotes in Gaza” Joe is credited as inventing the genre of cartoonist-correspondent. In this book he investigates the massacre of 275 Palestinians in 1956 by Israel during the Suez Crisis.

All the ingredients were present for a violent denouement. It came, according to a United Nations report, when 275 Palestinians in Khan Yunis and 111 in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, were killed during Israeli operations. The Israelis insisted they were rooting out a hostile enemy, but Palestinians contended that armed resistance had ceased before the troops arrived.

Sacco chose to excavate these events because he thinks they crystallize the ongoing conflict. The book quotes Hamas leader Abdulaziz Rantisi, who was a 9-year-old living in Khan Yunis in 1956 and recalled his uncle being killed. “It left a wound in my heart that can never heal,” he told Sacco. “They planted hatred in our hearts.”

By dialing back the clock, Sacco said, he hopes to bring insight to a cycle of violent retribution and political stalemate that is as tragically timely as this morning’s Twitter feeds.

2 thoughts on “Sacco’s investigative-reporting war comic book

  1. Certainly, in the modern era, I give Joe Sacco full credit for inventing the war correspondent-cartoonist genre–or sub-genre, since most cartoonists are smart enough not to venture to war zones. I couldn’t have done my Afghan or Central Asia books if he hadn’t made it possible. The same is true for David Axe/Matt Bors, as well as the travelogue genre embodied by Guy Delisle.

    To be finicky, however, surely there’s a hat tip owed to Bill Mauldin.

  2. There was also an interview with him at Al-Jazeera by a young Palestinian journalist that goes into more depth on the choices he made as an artist and his overall approach to journalism. It’s quite a good piece

    As for Mauldin, though he is at the top of my list of favorites, I don’t think the connection with this type of journalism is there. Mauldin didn’t investigate anything — he simply drew the experience which, at least at the beginning, was his own. What made it different was the lack of Official Filter — he depicted the life of the common soldier as it was, not through the eyes of the officers, which is the POV for nearly all war fiction and non-fiction. Brilliant stuff, but he didn’t have to investigate — he was already in the middle of it all.

    What Sacco does is quite different on a number of levels. I like’em both.

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