Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Favorite Graphic Novel of '09

I think a lot of people my age view comics, or graphic novels, with a fairly large degree of scorn.  They are something read as a child, or that part of the newspaper you glance at while on a coffee break... or while you take a dump.  This is an unfortunate state of mind though, because there is a lot of great stuff out there in the graphic novel medium.  Great reads and as a bonus: pictures too!

In many ways 2009 was the year of the graphic novel for me.  I went from hardly ever reading any, to reading them on a fairly regular basis.  Of all the comics I read this year, (around 25), one stands out above them all.

Palestine by Joe Sacco

In this comic, set during the early 90's,  the author, and artist, Joe Sacco, travels to Israeli occupied Palestine to research and interview people for his comic.  Throughout the comic what you get are first hand interviews with Palestinians who have experienced the hardship and terror of their struggle with Israel.  Sacco hears a wide variety of stories, and he somewhat ruthlessly collects these tales in order to create the comic he wishes to write.  Sacco makes it very clear from the get-go that he is not trying to give "both sides" of the story as he assumes that his American readers will be familiar with the Israeli's side.  What you get instead is an eye opening perspective from the Palestinian view point.

I will admit that prior to reading this book, I knew little about the Palestinian/Israeli struggle.  What I did know came from our very one sided American news sources that have almost always told me that Israel is "good" and Palestine is "bad" (more recently that they are terrorists).  While I am smart enough to know that things are rarely, if ever, that cut and dry, I honestly wasn't very aware of the alternate perspective. This book opened my mind and taught me a few things.  For that reason, this was a great book, but it was great for other reasons as well.  Sacco collected some amazing and often heartbreaking stories from the people he interviewed.  Alongside and infused with the stories are Sacco's fantastically detailed black and white illustrations which really bring the people, and setting to life.  Palestine is a complete visual and mental experience.  It manages to be informative, entertaining, and genuine all at the same time, and I really consider it a must read for everybody. 


Brad Frye said...

Sounds like some bad-ass anthropology! Dude, I would totally read that. You are right, grahpic novels seem like they would be for kiddies, but they are a very adult alternative medium.

Ryan said...

You would definitely enjoy this one Brad. Check and see if the Ellsworth Library has it. You wont regret it.