Sunday, May 16, 2010


Palestine is the first major collected work by Joe Sacco, a journalist who draws the events and people he encounters in different hot spots of the world. This books casts a spotlight on the people whose side we usually don't hear about in the US, telling the story of Palestinians who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Sacco was there in December 1991 until January 1992, and his motive for creating this work was to add balance to the coverage of the events in this area of the world. He felt that all the news reports he saw were told from the Israeli point of view, and he wanted to see what the other side looked like and had to say. The people he met were largely hospitable, drank tea, and were not all monsters or terrorists. However, they did have many stories about the foul deeds perpetrated on them by Israeli forces. After reading these accounts, it seems that neither side is entirely in the right in this conflict, to say the very least.

Palestine was originally published as separate issues from 1992 on and collected in 1996. In 1996, the series also won an American Book Award. It was reissued in 2007 as a special edition with an introduction by noted international scholar Edward Said.

In general, this is a very well reviewed work. Josh Flanagan at iFanboy called it one of the best comics of the decade. The Observer's David Thompson offered the opinion that "Sacco's greatest achievement is to have so poignantly depicted contradiction, oppression and horror in a form that manages to be both disarming and disquieting." The Independent's Charles Shaar Murray wrote that "It's a powerful piece of work" but also noted there was a uniformity to the depictions and "few of his Palestinian interviewees emerge as 'characters.'"

A short preview is available from the book's publisher, Fantagraphics. A longer slide show preview of the special edition of the book is here.

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