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Becoming a Comics Journalist: Joe Sacco’s Visit to Special Collections and University Archives

Joe Sacco is a comics journalist whose work is based on intensive on-the-scene research and interviews, close observation, and dramatic graphic representation.  Many of his books deal with war and conflict. One U.S. publisher, Macmillan, has called him “the world’s greatest cartoon reporter.”

Sacco is shown in these photos signing copies of his book Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995, in the Special Collections and University Archives classroom. The students in this Freshman Seminar, “From Gothic Script to Graphic Novel,” taught by James Fox and Marilyn Reaves, were assigned this book for a reading and drawing project. Sacco graciously agreed to come down from Portland to meet with the class and answer their many questions about wartime journalism, publishing, creativity, drawing, his career path, his involvement with the people and places in his books. He is an eloquent speaker and deep thinker; it was a lively and inspiring interchange.

Sacco has won several major book awards for his work:

Palestine: American Book Award (1996)

Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995: Eisner Award for Best Original Graphic Novel (2001)

Footnotes in Gaza: A Graphic Novel: Oregon Book Award (2012)

These and other books by Joe Sacco are held in Special Collections and University Archives. Journalism, published this year, is a collection of shorter pieces on conflicts around the world. His most recent book, with Chris Hedges, entitled Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, examines poverty in several regions of America. It was a pleasure having him visit the University of Oregon Library.

–Marilyn Reaves, Assistant to the Director

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