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Comic book news: Joe Sacco draws on history (part 2)

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.]

sacco-cairoBThe 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.

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