I recently talked about journalism and storytelling with Nonny de la Peña, who is a senior research fellow in immersive journalism at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, where she explores 3-D environments for news, nonfiction and documentary. She is also co-founder of Stroome.com, a community that allows online collaborative remixing of [...]
Contributor Archives: Ernesto Priego
Comic book writer and misfit Harvey Pekar spent his life bracing for the worst, and now, finally, he can relax. Pekar was a non-fiction storyteller who recorded his daily existence for others to draw. In the medium of American comics, where the power fantasies of corporate superheroes in tights are the norm, Pekar’s work stands [...]
Last year was an important one for memoir and manga (Japanese comics) in North America. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Canadian diplomatic relations with Japan, Canadian digital media company Zeros 2 Heroes hosted the web 2.0 initiative Manga Memoirs. The site combines social networking, online collaborative authorship and the final publication (online and on [...]
Emmanuel Guibert’s and Didier Lefèvre’s Le Photographe moves the field of nonfiction comics toward narrative journalism by revealing the documentary potential of graphic storytelling. Guibert recounts the journey of a photographer (Lefèvre) who records the work of a Medecins Sans Frontières mission in northeastern Afghanistan in 1986. Released in France between 2003 and 2006, the three volumes span 260 pages and follow Lefèvre from Pakistan to Afghanistan and back.
Though its achievements are similar to those of Joe Sacco’s Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde (discussed in Part 2 of this series), Le Photographe unfolds in radically different form. The series’ most striking aspect is the unusual combination of documentary photography (Lefèvre’s original work) and highly stylized drawings.
Part 2 of a look at graphic narrative journalism
[Part 1 discussed how “comics journalism” rose from the underground and independent comics scene to combine conventions of the traditional comic book with telling personal, true stories.]
The 1990s “indie” comics scene saw two trends. One reflected an almost neurotic drive to get away from the power fantasies of superhero stories. Using a careless graphic style that emphasized the pathologically normal, authors told stories from the point of view of a “defeatist,” in the words of comics artist Joe Sacco.
On the other hand, this was the era in which American non-superhero comics also started engaging with topics bigger than the middle-class suburbs of their creators. Inspiration came from the sudden acceptance of comics in the wake of Art Spiegelman’s 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Maus, which also built a bridge between the artistic language of the European bande dessinée and its comparatively low-brow American cousin.
Bringing these two trends together, the first issue of Joe Sacco’s Palestine came out in 1993, followed by nine original single comic book issues. Trained as a journalist, Sacco tells the story of the two months he spent in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 1991 and 1992.
Print journalism and comic books share a history. Without the former the latter would never have come to be. Journalists have also had their own struggle—the phrases “New Journalism” and “literary journalism” attempt to distinguish what’s used to wrap fish from what’s treasured on a book shelf. Unlike traditional journalism, literary journalism deals with facts [...]