Joe Sacco: “GAZA 1956. On the margins of history.”
#BD Joe Sacco, a prominent figure in the comic book landscape, began his career as a cartoonist, both humorous and autobiographical, before turning his work towards journalism and reporting. After several trips to Palestine to meet the inhabitants and try to understand the demonization of Palestinians by the almost all pro-Israeli American media, he published Palestine in nine issues, a first comic story mixing autobiography, journalism and investigation. He inaugurates a voice, a personal approach to comics that he will never stop testing and improving in his subsequent albums until his most accomplished book Gaza 1956, which delivers a real work of historian with a journalistic and immersive approach there on an important subject that is almost not documented in all disciplines. A great figure in comics reporting, comics of reality or whatever the name of this hybrid discipline may be, he is one of the pioneers of the genre and has established an unprecedented pact of trust with his reader. By posing as a protagonist of his stories, expressing his doubts, his prejudices, but also by commenting, explaining his approach and working methods on the margins of the story: he brings a welcome counterpoint to the subjectivity of the journalist. TV, photographic or written reports all have an angle, a point of view and reflect the journalist’s vision more than reality, an ambiguity that Joe Sacco removes with this technique with the stated desire to dispel doubts about this essential issue in the age of omnipresent media, and his work is to be found in Maus en BD or Georges Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia or William T. Vollmann’s surveys for literature. Each of his books, and Gaza in particular, offers several intertwined frames that tell what the author is going through, the staging of the testimonies he receives or the recitatives of his interlocutors. He experiments his method in Soba, and The Fixer, which portrays a society through a main character. Or Gorazde: the war in eastern Bosnia and the last days of war: Bosnia 1995-1996 around collective testimonies and total immersion in the daily life of the people he questions. Prefiguration of the documentary and memory work he opened with Gaza in 1956 by seeking to trace the events that occurred in the Gaza Strip to Khan Younis where the Israeli army executed 275 Palestinians. In parallel with testimonies and accounts of several abuses over time and on Gaza today: shots fired by regular Israeli soldiers, roadblocks and humiliations, house demolitions and expropriation, etc… These accounts are interspersed with contemporary scenes experienced by the author.
Very influenced by Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb or Harvey Pekar, his semi-realistic line, uses codes from press cartoons or underground comics to better transcribe reality. Without summarizing or simplifying, he accumulates and confronts different scenes and points of view in these often dense works. He does not draw on the spot, but listens, questions and collects stories and documents that he accompanies with photos and then recomposes his story once back in the USA. Choosing frames, staging, drawing from photos and inserting documents, as the albums go by, his approach to comics tends towards more realism and frees himself from certain style effects to influence his reader as little as possible. Drawing allows him to approach the report in a new way, with a very important text-image relationship. The bubbles or cartridges mark out the boxes to invite the eye to get lost in the boxes without losing the thread of the story and one wonders if all these plates, all these books do not ultimately form a fresco, a huge portrait of the forgotten of justice.
Give a voice to injustices. In war zones, but also to give a voice to migrants, the poor, the forgotten of our time. An important work to read, reread and have read.
He received the France Info Prize for Current Affairs and Reporting Comics in 1999 for Palestine, an occupied nation and again in 2011 for Gaza 1956. Two Eisner for Gorazde in 2001 and for Gaza 1956 in 2010. Prizes for Worldviews at the Angoulême Festival for Gaza 1956 in 2011. And a lot of European prizes.
GAZA 1956. On the margins of the story, Joe Sacco and Jonathan Cap
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