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Joe Sacco

Joe Sacco

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Joe Sacco is a Maltese-American
People of the United States
The people of the United States, also known as simply Americans or American people, are the inhabitants or citizens of the United States. The United States is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds...

 comics
Comics
Comics denotes a hybrid medium having verbal side of its vocabulary tightly tied to its visual side in order to convey narrative or information only, the latter in case of non-fiction comics, seeking synergy by using both visual and verbal side in...

 artist and journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

. He achieved international fame through the 1996 American Book Award
American Book Award
The American Book Award was established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation. It seeks to recognize outstanding literary achievement by contemporary American authors, without restriction to race, sex, ethnic background, or genre...

-winning Palestine, and his graphic novel on the Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

, Safe Area Goražde
Safe Area Goražde
Safe Area Goražde is a journalistic comic book about the Bosnian War, written by Joe Sacco. It was published in 2000.The book describes the author's experiences during four months spent in Bosnia in 1994-1995, and is based on conversations with Bosniaks trapped within the enclave of Goražde.Sacco...

.

Biography


Sacco was born in Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 on October 2, 1960. His father was an engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 and his mother was a teacher. At the age of one, he moved with his family to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, where he spent his childhood until 1972, when they moved to Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. He began his journalism career working on the Sunset High School newspaper in Beaverton
Beaverton
Beaverton may refer to the following places:In Canada:*Beaverton, OntarioIn the United States:*Beaverton, Alabama*Beaverton, Michigan*Beaverton Township, Michigan*Beaverton, Oregon**Beaverton Mall, in Beaverton, Oregon...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

. While journalism was his primary focus, this was also the period of time in which he developed his penchant for humor and satire. He graduated from Sunset High in 1978.

Sacco earned his B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in journalism
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

 from the University of Oregon
University of Oregon
-Colleges and schools:The University of Oregon is organized into eight schools and colleges—six professional schools and colleges, an Arts and Sciences College and an Honors College.- School of Architecture and Allied Arts :...

 in 1981 in three years. He was greatly frustrated with the journalist work that he found at the time, later saying, "[I couldn't find] a job writing very hard-hitting, interesting pieces that would really make some sort of difference." After being briefly employed by the journal of the National Notary Association
National Notary Association
The National Notary Association is an American nonprofit organization which provides education to and about notaries public. It was established in 1957 by Raymond C. Rothman....

, a job which he found "exceedingly, exceedingly boring," and several factories, he returned to Malta, his journalist hopes forgotten. "...I sort of decided to forget it and just go the other route, which was basically take my hobby, which has been cartooning, and see if I could make a living out of that," he later told the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

.

He began working for a local publisher writing guidebooks. Returning to his fondness for comics, he wrote a Maltese romance comic named Imħabba Vera ("True Love"), one of the first art-comics in the Maltese language
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

. "Because Malta has no history of comics, comics weren't considered something for kids," he told The Village Voice
The Village Voice
The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City...

. "In one case, for example, the girl got pregnant and she went to Holland
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 for an abortion. Malta is a Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 country where not even divorce is allowed. It was unusual, but it's not like anyone raised a stink about it, because they had no way of judging whether this was appropriate material for comics or not."

Eventually returning to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, by 1985 Sacco had founded a satirical
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

, alternative comics
Alternative comics
Alternative comics defines a range of American comics that have appeared since the 1980s, following the underground comix movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Alternative comics present an alternative to "mainstream" superhero comics which in the past have dominated the US comic book industry...

 magazine called Portland Permanent Press in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

. When the magazine folded fifteen months later, he took a job at The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal, often abbreviated TCJ, is an American magazine of news and criticism pertaining to comic books, comic strips and graphic novels...

as the staff news writer. This job provided the opportunity for him to create another satire: the comic Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy, a name he took from an overly-complicated children's toy in Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

's Brave New World
Brave New World
Brave New World is Aldous Huxley's fifth novel, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540 , the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embodiment of the ideals that form the basis of...

.

But Sacco was more interested in travelling. In 1988, he left the U.S. again to travel across Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, a trip which he chronicled in his autobiographical comic Yahoo. The trip led him towards the ongoing Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 (his obsession with which he talks about in Yahoo #2), and in 1991 he found himself nearby to research the work he would eventually publish as Palestine.

The Gulf War segment of Yahoo drew Sacco into a study of Middle Eastern politics, and he traveled to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and the Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 to research his first long work. Palestine was a collection of short and long pieces, some depicting Sacco's travels and encounters with Palestinians (and several Israelis), and some dramatizing the stories he was told. It was serialized as a comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 from 1993 to 1995 and then published in several collections, the first of which won an American Book Award
American Book Award
The American Book Award was established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation. It seeks to recognize outstanding literary achievement by contemporary American authors, without restriction to race, sex, ethnic background, or genre...

 in 1996 and sold more than 30,000 copies in the UK.

Sacco next travelled to Sarajevo
Sarajevo
Sarajevo |Bosnia]], surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and the Balkans....

 and Goražde
Goražde
Goražde , is a city and municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Drina river. It is located between Foča, Sokolac and Višegrad, and is administratively part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the center of the Bosnian Podrinje Canton.-Location:Goražde is situated on the...

 near the end of the Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

, and produced a series of reports in the same style as Palestine: the comics Safe Area Goražde
Safe Area Goražde
Safe Area Goražde is a journalistic comic book about the Bosnian War, written by Joe Sacco. It was published in 2000.The book describes the author's experiences during four months spent in Bosnia in 1994-1995, and is based on conversations with Bosniaks trapped within the enclave of Goražde.Sacco...

, The Fixer, and the stories collected in War's End
War's End
War's End is a journalistic comic about the Bosnian War written by Joe Sacco. It contains two stories; the first, Christmas with Karadzic, about tracking down and meeting the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, and the second, Soba, about a popular Sarajevan man who fights against the Serbs....

; the financing for which was aided by his winning of the Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...

 in April 2001. Safe Area Goražde won the Eisner Award
Eisner Award
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, commonly shortened to the Eisner Awards, and sometimes referred to as the Oscar Awards of the Comics Industry, are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. The Eisner Awards were first conferred in 1988, created in response to the...

 for Best Original Graphic Novel in 2001.

He has also contributed short pieces of graphic reportage to a variety of magazines, on subjects ranging from war crimes to blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

, and was a frequent illustrator of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor
American Splendor
American Splendor is a series of autobiographical comic books written by the late Harvey Pekar and drawn by a variety of artists. The first issue was published in 1976 and the most recent in September 2008, with publication occurring at irregular intervals...

. In 2005 he wrote and drew two eight-page comics depicting events in Iraq published in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

. He also contributed a 16-page piece in April 2007's issue of Harper's Magazine
Harper's Magazine
Harper's Magazine is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, with a generally left-wing perspective. It is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S. . The current editor is Ellen Rosenbush, who replaced Roger Hodge in January 2010...

, entitled Down! Up! You're in the Iraqi army now. His most recent major journalistic work is Footnotes in Gaza
Footnotes in Gaza
Footnotes in Gaza is a journalistic comic book by Joe Sacco about two bloody incidents during the Suez War. It was published in 2000.The book describes the author's quest to get to the bottom of what happened in Khan Younis and in Rafah in November 1958...

, which investigates two forgotten massacres that took place in Khan Younis and Rafah
Rafah
Rafah , also known as Rafiah, is a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip. Located south of Gaza, Rafah's population of 71,003 is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan form separate localities. Rafah is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate...

 in November 1958. Sacco is currently working on a book on poverty in the United States
Poverty in the United States
Poverty is defined as the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday September 13th, 2011, the nation's poverty rate rose to 15.1% in 2010, up from 14.3% in 2009 and to its highest level...

 with journalist Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges
Christopher Lynn Hedges is an American journalist, author, and war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies...

.

Sacco currently lives in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

.

Awards


In addition to his 1996 American Book Award
American Book Award
The American Book Award was established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation. It seeks to recognize outstanding literary achievement by contemporary American authors, without restriction to race, sex, ethnic background, or genre...

, 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...

, and 2001 Eisner Award
Eisner Award
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, commonly shortened to the Eisner Awards, and sometimes referred to as the Oscar Awards of the Comics Industry, are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. The Eisner Awards were first conferred in 1988, created in response to the...

, Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza was nominated for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Graphic Novel award. Sacco was awarded the 2010 Ridenhour Book Prize
The Ridenhour Prizes
The Ridenhour Prizes comprise awards in three categories given annually in recognition of those "who persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice or illuminate a more just vision of society." The awards are presented by The Nation Institute and The...

 for Footnotes in Gaza.

See also

  • New Journalism
    New Journalism
    New Journalism was a style of 1960s and 1970s news writing and journalism which used literary techniques deemed unconventional at the time. The term was codified with its current meaning by Tom Wolfe in a 1973 collection of journalism articles he published as The New Journalism, which included...

  • Alternative comics
    Alternative comics
    Alternative comics defines a range of American comics that have appeared since the 1980s, following the underground comix movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Alternative comics present an alternative to "mainstream" superhero comics which in the past have dominated the US comic book industry...

  • List of Eye magazine issues
  • @earth
    @earth
    @earth is a 2011 book made by London born photomontage artist Peter Kennard with Lebanese artist Tarek Salhany. It is a photo-essay told through photomontage with seven chapters exposing the current state of the earth, the conditions of life on it and the need to resist injustice...


External links


Interviews


  • Joe Sacco on Footnotes in Gaza - Interview on the 7th Avenue Project radio show
  • Joe Sacco on Palestine - Interview by Al Jazeera
    Al Jazeera
    Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar...

     English
  • Brueghel in Bosnia Interview in L.A. Weekly.
  • The Art Of War Interview in Mother Jones
    Mother Jones (magazine)
    Mother Jones is an American independent news organization, featuring investigative and breaking news reporting on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture. Mother Jones has been nominated for 23 National Magazine Awards and has won six times, including for General Excellence in 2001,...

    .
  • Joe Sacco, Man of the World Audio interview on mp3 from The Crown Commission.
  • Interview with Joe Sacco - interview on Weekend America
    Weekend America
    Weekend America was a weekly public radio program dealing with news, popular culture, the arts and more. The program was produced for American Public Media and hosted by John Moe in Saint Paul, Minnesota....

  • Interview with Joe Sacco on bdtheque.com for the release of Footnotes in Gaza.
  • Eyeglass in Gaza Interview in "The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

    ".