Monday, August 20, 2007

comics and journalism

The point where comic art and journalism cross over is well established thanks to the extraordinary - and initially unprecedented - work of the Maltese artist Joe Sacco, who, since the early nineties, has published impressively researched, exquisitely rendered comics detailing daily life in Palestine, Sarajevo, Gorazde and other war zones in days of both tidy normality and great crisis.

Since his groundbreaking form of reportage was first published, similar works, blending memoir, history and politics, have helped solidify comic reportage as a substantial and cutting-edge genre. Since Sacco's 'Palestine', Guy Delisle has published two superb books of travel journalism from restricted states (his 'Pyongyang: Journey in North Korea', and 'Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China'), Jean-Philippe Stassen's 'Deogratias, a Tale of Rwanda' is a deeply moving study of life in the East Central African nation at the time of the Tutsi genocide, and David Axe's 'War Fix' (extract below) is a devastating look at the aftermath of the Iraq War. Greg Cook is pursuing similar themes and Ted Rall's 'To Afghanistan & Back' does the same for the first country attacked in the "war on terror'.

Craig Thompson is another writer currently writing the kind of book which demands not just creative power but serious research. His forthcoming graphic novel, Habbibi, is not yet published, but his comic book travelogue, 'Carnet De Voyage', which documents his research, taking in Barcelona, the Alps, France, and Morocco is serious travel journalism.

Now, adding to this body of work, the legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar, more well-known for his closely obseved autobiographical style, has turned his hand to a new project - working with the peace campaigner Heather Roberson and the artist Ed Piskor, Pekar has written 'Macedonia', a book which depicts not another state of War in Eastern Europe, but rather the state of peace which has somehow, set against troubling ethnic rivalry, prevailed since the break-up of Yugoslavia. It looks like a great read.

Despite all this, my favourite travel illustrator is someone not so often mentioned in comic-book circles, but someone whose meticulous line drawings combine with delicate narrative to produce really powerful pieces of graphic art. Yet there are still no collections of Olivier Kugler's work!?! Amazing - I hope someone remedies this soon. One of his drawings appears below - marvellous.

There are plenty more of Kugler's drawings here. Go see.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I didn't realise you liked comics too, Craig Thompson's one of my favourites! Looking forward to his new book. (Off the journalism theme, I'd recommend reading Blankets, it's beautiful, if rather epic!)