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Book Review < Back

Safe Area Gorazde

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Joe Sacco
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books


Over the span of four visits in late 1995 and early 1996, Joe Sacco visited and documented the war in Bosnia through the eyes of the citizens of Gorazde, a UN "Safe Area" that was anything but. He witnessed the end of a war and the beginning of a future during his time spent amongst the people there. He recorded horror so barbaric and hope so human as to shock anyone that reads his book. He saw a people marginalized and ignored by the world, a people that had fought house-to-house and block-by-block to save their lives, a people that wanted little more than to not have to see any more of their friends and neighbors die horribly as they started to recall the little boring things of a normal life.

Never before has Harvey Pekar's maxim that "Comics are just words and pictures; you can do anything with words and pictures," been provided so beautiful an example. Sacco knows exactly what his hybrid style allows him to accomplish and he fires on all cylinders as he stitches together the recent history of Gorazde. From his distinctive cartoon-caricature people moving through precisely rendered environments, to flitting back and forth between straight journalism, interviews, prose, and auto-bio moments in the writing, Sacco's work coalesces into a new milieu, a new grammar for the entire medium of comics. Look! Look at what comics can do.

Joe Sacco is a journalist. SAFE AREA GORAZDE is his report.

-- Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.


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