The Believer magazine sat down with comic journalist Joe Sacco to talk about his book Footnotes in Gaza, his creative process, the unique value of comic journalism, and illustration versus photography.
Footnotes in Gaza is about two massacres in Palestine in 1956. Sacco traveled to Israel to do first hand research, including tracking down survivors and the families of the victims. Sacco notes that the Palestinians have never had the luxury of reflection upon history, for the conflict has never really ended, just bled into the next conflict and the next one for the past 50 or 60 years. “I think it’s important to isolate things, because then you can understand how one generation, if not subsequent ones, were brutalized. You’ve got to stop it sometime and have a look it,” Sacco says. He certainly takes a deep look with his over four-hundred page comic book portraying the massacres in great detail. He doesn’t shy away from the dark or depressing aspects, either. “I don’t stop the book with the people dying,” Sacco says. “To me, it’s important to show: so now what happens to the dead? I want the reader to get a sense of the breadth of it, what it means in its entirety, and not leave out any steps, as difficult as it is to read, and—believe me—as difficult as it was to draw.”