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Posted October 9, 2008
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Art Spiegalman's Maus is renowned for having dramatically pushed foward the artform of comics with his very personal tale of his family's experiences in the Holocaust.<BR/><BR/>Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde now pushes the form even further, taking us into the fractured Bosnia of the early 1990's with the eye of a journalist. The narrative concerns the city of Gorazde, a predominantly Bosniak (Muslim) area that is surrounded by Serb territory and which is only connected to the rest of the soon-to-be Muslim-Croat federation only by one narrow road on which UN convoys run. At first the story appears light-hearted as Sacco makes friends with the inhabitants of the town and gets his bearings - but as these inhabitants tell us their stories the truly gruesome nature of this conflict is unveiled and grotesquely illustrated through Sacco's detailed artwork. The narrative is supported not only by Sacco's illustrations (which provide a very realistic sense of the atmosphere of the place - something lacking in many other non-fiction books covering this conflict) but also by substantial research - at several points Sacco takes some time to explain the often confusing historical background to the conflict.<BR/><BR/>My only complaint is that the scope of the story is somewhat narrow and comes off as a bit biased - we never see anything from the Serb or Croat perspectives in this book, and that's a signifigant lack. But given the focus on a particular geogpraphic location it does to some extent make sense. <BR/><BR/>Anyone interested in the history of the Balkans or the recent conflict should certainly read this, as should anyone who is a fan of comics that truly push the artform in a new direction and show what it is capable of.
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Posted August 24, 2009
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