Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde

NOTES FROM A DEFEATIST

Joe Sacco, Author . Fantagraphics $19.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-56097-510-6

This collection of early work by cartoonist/journalist Sacco, of American Book Award–winning Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde acclaim, assembles pieces ranging from early reportage to Sacco's young attempts at satire. Of the two genres, Sacco finds his clearest voice in reportage. Stories such as "In the Company of Long Hair," in which Sacco tours with a rock band, find him in a kind of neurotic, Gonzo-journalism mode, following the rock and rollers down the road of excess, but entertainingly complaining all the way. "When Good Bombs Happen to Bad People" soberly examines the rationales behind wartime bombing campaigns, while its companion piece, "More Women, More Children, More Quickly," based on the recollections of Sacco's mother during WWII, looks at the same subject from the perspective of the people on the ground. "How I Loved the War," conversely, bitterly and satirically examines Sacco's own obsession with media coverage during the first Gulf War, covering himself, the conflict and, of course, television. These pieces highlight Sacco's gift for caricature and cartoon hysterics, perhaps more so than the artist's later, more sober work. Sacco creates terrifying scenes of bombs dropping, and when he himself is scared, panels buckle and words stretch out and explode, turning Sacco into a funhouse mirror version of himself. Readers of his later books already know that his commentary is never less than intelligent and generally quite brilliant. Those looking for a larger dose of Sacco's reportorial talents should seek out and enjoy Notes from a Defeatist. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/09/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
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