|Photo by Josh Kramer -- see end of post.|
Born on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean, Sacco grew up in Australia and on the American West Coast (Los Angeles, Portland). He provides a solid explanation for the power of his work. "Over time I realized this accidental bringing together of first-person narrative and journalism has real impact." Most important to him in his choices on the page is a determination to admit his own subjectiveness as an observer. But from the start of his journalistic portrayals, Sacco has given the page character who represent him "blanked out" eyes behind glasses, denying readers a look directly into Sacco and pushing them instead to examine the world he visits, whether in Palestine or Bosnia or, now in a work in progress, "post-industrial America."
Sacco's work takes two or three years from idea to pages, so he constantly tests his ideas, struggling for what will still be worthwhile by the time it comes to fruition. He won an American Book Award for his Palestine and shook readers with Safe Area Gorazde, introduced by political commentator Christopher Hitchens. See more of his titles at Fantagraphics Books. His current work on post-industrial America has already taken him and collaborator Chris Hedges to Camden, New Jersey, and to West Virginia mountaintop removal sites. Yes!
My thanks to Josh Kramer, a 2011 student at the Center for Cartoon Studies, for the photo of Joe Sacco here. Kramer's blog (http://joshkramer.wordpress.com) is well worth visiting; I like his use of color, and his B&W drawings are already provocative. Here's to seeing more of his work, like Joe Sacco's, in the years ahead.