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Comic Catch-Up-09/09/11

I decided to talk about some of the comics that I’ve read of late. Out of what I’ve read the two significant pieces are Joe Sacco’s Palestine and Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Daytripper. Both works have strong and unique artistic styles that work towards enhancing the narrative, a nice mixture of both the writing and art by the creators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palestine:

Joe Sacco is a comic journalist (getting things right to the point). Palestine is Sacco’s experience of going to Palestine (both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) during the First Intifada during the early 90s.

As a journalist, Sacco’s approach is initially very objective, in the sense that it’s difficult to clearly identify his bias at the beginning of the work. However, by the end Sacco has an established bias, making the work seem more subjective than objective. While this sounds like it’s damaging for the work, I believe it’s not. Sacco does little of the overall talking in the narrative in his own voice. Most of the time it’s from Palestinians sharing their experiences. Just as Sacco’s bias becomes more established, so does it for the reader who also shares the stories of the individuals involved. In terms of the narrative this is one of the greatest strengths. That and the general interest and heartbreak involved with the stories of the Palestinians.

In terms of Sacco’s art, it is very much influenced by that of Robert Crumb. There is a similar sense of facial construction individuals, and a seeming homage to the ‘Keep on Truckin” style of walking that Sacco sometimes uses to depict himself (and occasionally others) when walking through a city. Without a doubt, Sacco is an exaggerator of the individual. He extends the length of appendages to fit the story or the atmosphere. But he is a great humanist whe showing individuals who struggle or have struggled.

Sacco’s Palestine is very dirty, broken, and overall just bleak. Most scenes are filled with dirt/sand dirtying the image. Later on a storm during Sacco’s stay in Gaza exemplifies this sense of bleakness when the dirt becomes mud, dominating the landscape. At the same time Sacco shows the Palestinians continuing on. This is a nice visual parallel to socio-political of the Palestinians during the time (and for the most part today) and their physical landscape.

Daytripper:

Unlike Palestine, Daytripper is more based on the grounds of fiction. (Though I think I read somewhere that parts of the work were autobiographical.) It’s also different in that it has two creators who share equal writing and artistic duties. With Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba it’s very difficult to distinguish the two styles with an immediate glance, but if you pay some more attention the differences are easy to notice. A successful way of combining stylistic uniformity and artistic individualism.

As for the story of the work, it shifts every chapter to a different point in the protagonist’s life. The chapters are divided between the two brothers, allowing for a new style to focus on the changing periods of life. The writing is a very poetic way of understanding how life works. It’s very reminiscent of Craig Thompson’s (outstanding) graphic novel Blankets which covers the topic of first love and the changes that come with the transition between adolescence and adulthood (Thompson also drew the intro for this work. It’s pretty great.) Daytripper does something similar, but differs in that it chooses to look at short, but important, individual moments of life that define the individual. The whole schematic plays off very well and is quite interesting.

The art for each chapter does a great job at creating the atmosphere for each of these individual moments of life. It is also important to mention that Dave Stewart’s colors throughout the entire volume are outstanding and quite possibly the highlight piece of art in the volume. As his colors always are they’re rich, here mostly are watercolor based. It adds a light to the sense of atmosphere in the chapters, and the otherwordly feel the entire work has.

Both works are very strong and I’m glad that I read them. When it comes to recommendations I find it easier to say to check out Daytripper more so than Palestine. This has to do with both the subject content and the art of the works. Daytripper is far more accessible and thus easier to recommend (plus Dave Stewart’s colors). However, if you’re the slightest bit curious about the Palestinian conflict, I would definitely recommend Palestine.

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