Tyler Hill's Reviews > Safe Area Gorazde: The Special Edition

Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco
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Sep 25, 11

bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read in September, 2011

Joe Sacco's a crazy man. By that, I don't mean to say his behavior or attitude are wild or outrageous (actually, the reverse seems to be true); but instead, I say it because it just boggles my mind that he does what he does: Go to conflict areas around the world, and then write comics about his experiences there. First, you have the reality to traveling to an area where and armed conflict is happening (or, at least recently happened). Then you have the reality of creating comics: A massively labor intensive and solitary pursuit with little hope of reaching a large audience or making any money worth mentioning off of. Finally, you address the (somewhat cynical) reality that most comic book (or, er, graphic novel) readers tend to gravitate toward spandex clad heroes, or at least autobiographical tales of suburban loners and outcast.

Combining those three things, he's effectively created a situation where's he's potentially putting himself in harms way, so that he can spend hours (well, months, or even years) creating something that comparatively few people will likely even bother to read. But, despite all this, it's what Joe Sacco does.

And, he does it very, very well.

This is only my second exposure to his work (the first being Palestine), and this book, like that one is an amazing piece of visual literature and comic journalism. In fact, in many regards, this book is superior to Palestine in terms of both narrative and illustration. A story at turns both warm and human and horrifying and harrowing. Honestly, it should be required reading. Not just for fans of independent comics or people in people interested in the Bosnian conflict, but just for all people. It's not always an easy read, but its an important one.

(As a side note: The volume I read is the Special Edition hardcover, which features a lot of additional "making of" material, which is amazing and definitely worth reading. That said, most of it is featured in the front of the book, and best read after reading the comic itself.)
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