Joe Sacco Creator of war-reportage comics An Interview

Interview: Joe Sacco
By Laila El-Haddad
When he first learnt about the massacres, Sacco questioned why he had not heard of them before[Joe Sacco]

When it comes to the world of cartooning, Joe Sacco is considered a luminary. Sacco, who is hailed as the creator of war-reportage comics, is the author of such award-winning books as Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde.His latest work, Footnotes in Gaza, is an investigation into two little-known and long-forgotten massacres in 1956 in the southern Gaza Strip that left at least 500 Palestinians dead. It is a chilling look back at an unrecorded past and an exploration of how that past haunts and shapes the present – including the beginning of mass home demolitions in 2003 in Rafah.

Sacco navigates the fuzzy lines between memory, experience and visual interpretation almost seamlessly all while painting an intimate portrait of life under occupation and in spite of occupation – a life not only of repression and anger but one full of humour and resilience.

My mother narrowly escaped death during the 1956 massacre in Khan Yunis. Yet I struggled to find any information or record of this event as I grew older. Why do you think that is?

I was curious about the same thing.

What led me to this is a UN document referenced in books about the Suez War according to [which] up to 275 [Palestinians] were killed in Khan Yunis and then a few days later, about 111 in Rafah.

These are large mass killings the UN is alleging. And it was a surprise to me that I had read very little about them.

I thought clearly some of the people who lived [through] this must still be alive. Why not go and try to actually make an attempt to gather their stories?

The book speaks a lot to the inexhaustible nature of this conflict. As you state in the book, headlines written 10 years ago could very well be today’s headlines. To what extent do some of the book’s themes – exploitation, massacre, subjugation, occupation, disenchantment, survival – repeat themselves till this day?

I think you see a lot of those elements.

Palestinians are very weary of other Arab regimes. They’re weary of their own government. And I think you see that in the parts about 1956, about the Egyptian army not putting up much up a fight, and even the fedayee basically coming to the conclusion that the Egyptians were using them which is probably the case.

And today, you see the fact that a lot of Arab regimes give lip service to the Palestinian cause but then you see what the Egyptians are doing on the border with the help of the US army corp of engineers; obviously in their mind it’s clear the Egyptian government has thrown in its walk on the side of the blockaders. So yes, there are certain themes that are repeated.

What is your favorite scene? . . .

If you are interested in reading the rest of this interview please visit the following weblink.

Posted on 2010/01/20, in From The Editors, The World Today and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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