Sunday, July 8, 2012

Comics! Post 1: The Fixer

A Story From Sarajevo 
By Joe Sacco 


I have just decided today that for every 10 film posts I will post about something else.  Just to mix things up.  This year I attended a workshop at Senate House, London by the Institute of the Study of las Americas entitled "Para leer a América Latina: Comics, Graphic Novels and Collective Memory".  The workshop brought together a number of PhD students from different academic backgrounds who spoke about the importance of the 'visual narratives' in comics for inter alia., nation building, education and collective memory.  Comics are increasingly being theorised and studied in various academic disciplines, however, within legal studies comics remain marginalised.  

Why is this?  Well, it may be because in the West comics are often considered to be for young audiences, not to be taken seriously by serious lawyers.  Yet, those familiar with graphic fiction will be aware that comics often deal with complex subject matters including many issues related to human rights and international law.  In this blog I hope to stimulate debate between those of us who like comics and to introduce new readers to some 'visual narratives' which are highly relevant to the study of popular culture and international law.  If you would like me to review something in particular let me know. 

The Fixer 

To begin with I have chosen Joe Sacco's 'The Fixer'.  The Fixer is an easy place to begin since its short and the story is very accessible... also its sitting on the table in front of me.  Set in Sarajevo, Joe Sacco returns five years after his work Safe Area Gorazde (which will be reviewed in due course).  Sacco tells the story of "Neven" a former soldier who became a 'fixer' hanging out in hotel lobbies in order to arrange things for foreign journalists.  Sometimes he would get paid to bring them to the frontline, at other times he would arrange for a prostitute to sleep with seven journalists, admitting that afterwards she felt suicidal.  Through Neven's story, Sacco tells the story of some of the factions of the Green Berets fighting in Sarajevo under the command of Celo, Juka and Delacic. 

After writing both the Fixer and Safe Area Gorazde Sacco went to the Hague and did a short piece for Details magazine on the ICTY.  Sacco's form of cartoon journalism is easily accessible, informative and provides an interesting 'visual narrative' on the atrocities perpetrated during the Balkans.  Enjoy! 


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