COMIC: Safe Area Gorazde
Fantagraphics Books -- 2000
Sacco has carved out a niche in comics, which, if not necessary wholly
unique, is one he's most certainly made his own. Sacco is the foremost
practitioner of the unlikely genre of comics journalism, and in his
hands, you'll start to wish that more journalism was presented this way.
Area Gorazde is the central piece in a series of books and stories
Sacco produced from time spent in Bosnia during the war. Sacco spent
months going between the cities of Sarajevo and Gorazde, the latter of
which is the primary concern of this book. Gorazde was a U.N.
designated "safe area," one of six enclaves supposedly protected by U.N.
forces, and the only one in eastern Bosnia not ultimately overrun by the Serbs (though not for a lack of effort).
most journalists would ride in with the morning convoy, get their
soundbites, and ride out with the afternoon convoy, Sacco spent time
living with the people of Gorazde, seeing how they survived, hearing
their stories, getting a sense of the personalities involved. As a
result, Sacco's writing has a breadth and depth conveyed by no other
reportage of the Bosnian war that I've ever encountered.
chapters in Gorazde fall into three loose categories (which often
crossover effortlessly); Sacco's first-hand experiences with the people
of Gorazde, the stories of war and survival that they share with him,
and some pretty straight, uncomplicated history of the region and
illustration isn't the kind of polished technique-fest that readers
primarily accustomed to mainstream comics will be used to, but his
talent for observation, texture and character give Gorazde a palpable
sense of place and feeling. The passion and detail that he puts into
Gorazde's shell-pocked streets, burned and blasted homes, scarred and
wounded refugees and their desperate, weary faces lend his storytelling
authenticity and credibility.
Joe Sacco is one of comics' truly
unique and visionary talents, and Safe Area Gorazde is a masterful
achievement in an already admirable career.
Crosspost Classic! 8.10.2007