Fantagraphics Books is pleased to present the first single-volume collection of this landmark of journalism and the art form of comics.
it was amazing
Over the past few decades, journalism has lost much of its credibility and almost all of its punch. Shallow, commercially-minded infotainment dominates, feeding us the “blue pill” (in Matrix terms) that makes us forget all those unpleasant realities out there. Why would media conglomerates fund costly in-depth research when a fluffy little human interest story not only feels better but is also much better for the bottom line? Mmmm, the blissful ignorance of media myths and i
I had a hard time getting through this graphic novel. It was a tough read due to the subject matter. I also wasn’t fond of the art on a personal level.
I did immensely appreciate Joe Sacco’s motivation for writing this graphic novel. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Joe Sacco said:
“I grew up thinking of Palestinians as terrorists, and it took a lot of time, and reading the right things, to understand the power dynamic in the Middle East was not what I had thought it was… And basically, it upset
There are two ways in which Palestinians are portrayed – as terrorist and as victim.
There may be truth in certain situations for both descriptions, but Palestinians are also people going to school, who have families, have lives, invite you into their home, and think about their food.”
Living in the U.S. with its strong ties to Israel, your average person (i.e. Me) will usually just get the Israeli sympathetic viewpoint from the media. The author wanted to get the other side of the story, the side that is grossly under-represented (you might even say misrepresented) in the American media. He wanted to see and hear, first hand, the Palestinian story.
My God, what a depressing story.
What I came away with from the novel were the following memorable highlights:
1) Palestinians drink A LOT of tea.
2) If you’re a young, Palestinian male then it’s practically guaranteed that you’ve gone to jail. If you haven’t, there is something wrong with you.
3) The Israeli jails are set up in such a way that its Palestinian prisoners are intentionally dehumanized. This was quite a powerful panel in the novel. A former inhabitant of one of the jails points out how the prisoners are not given proper eating utensils, bathrooms, showers or basically any other living necessity therby forcing the Palestinians to live like animals just to survive their prison term. Couple that reality with the fact that the Israeli soldiers in charge of guarding the jails (military service is compulsory in Israel)are often young impressionable kids witnessing large groups of Palestinians together for the first time and the whole prison set up takes on a very sordid and manipulative overtone of nationalist proportions.
4) There was the depressing revelation that there are Israelis who honestly believe that Palestinians “have it better under occupation” than before. *sigh* That’s like believing under-paid workers in third world sweat shops are doing all right “because at least now, they have a job and are making SOME kind of money rather than none at all.” (If you currently believe that bullshit, please read “No Logo” by Naomi Klein so that you get an opposing viewpoint and can subsequently make a more well-rounded and informed opinion.)
5) In another couple of powerful panels, Joe Sacco remarks to himself in wonder that he doesn’t even know what it would be like to WANT to have the kind of faith that would compel young women to want to cover their heads all the time. That struck me, because, well, I don’t know what that would be like either.
6) Much like the U.S. agricultural industry, it seems that the Israeli economy also relies on the availability of cheap Palestinian labor.
7) There was a poignant and possibly unintentional symbolism involved during the panel sequence in which a Palestinian patriarch describes to Joe how he was forced by the Israeli army to chop down his grove of olive trees. The trees, the patriarch said, were like “his sons”. He wept as the axe bit into the flesh of the trees. In one cruel afternoon, his family’s livlihood was destroyed.
Overall, I liked the novel and the author’s intent. Like I said, I didn’t much like the art but it was fitting to the novel’s content and tone.
book two for Jugs & Capes, my all-girl graphic novel book club!
Whew. This is a really, really devastating book. Part of the problem (and obviously part of the point) is that it is relentlessly awful, with story after story after story of death, destruction, skirmishes with soldiers, dead sons, dead husbands, maimed daughters, displacement, oppression, poverty, and pain.
It’s so painful, horribly, that I actually started to get a little jaded; or that’s not what I mean exactly, but the storie