Graphic journalist Joe Sacco appearing as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013
Sacco appears as part of the Festival's Stripped comics strand
This article is from 2013.
In its championing of an entire medium within this year’s inaugural Stripped strand, there’s an implied sense that EIBF are trying to further erode the tiresome conceit that stories told with words and pictures are just for kids by placing them closer to the orbit of the festival’s discursive heart. In booking Joe Sacco for his debut visit to EIBF, they’ve pulled off something of a coup. In comparison to the fanboy-exciting names of previous high-profile comicworld guests like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, Sacco is the poster boy for graphic novels as meaty subjects of Sunday supplement analysis read by people who have never stepped into a Forbidden Planet.
Born in Malta in 1960 and raised in Melbourne and then Los Angeles, Sacco earned a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and promptly did nothing with it, instead returning to Malta to write for a guidebook publisher and becoming a leading light in the Maltese-language comic industry (there were few competitors). Back in America in the mid-80s he would produce underground magazines and write for The Comics Journal, and in the early ’90s he would combine his twin interests in comics and travel to political hotspots to create the breakthrough Palestine for publisher Fantagraphics, fusing comics and journalism to a previously unanticipated degree.
He would later recreate his travels in Bosnia in Safe Area Gorazde and The Fixer and publish the acclaimed and controversial Footnotes in Gaza in 2009. This Edinburgh appearance follows the publication last year of Journalism, a typically hard-hitting anthology which tours Palestine, Iraq, India and The Hague in search of what his introduction calls ‘those who seldom get a hearing’, for ‘the comics medium … has forced me to make choices. In my view, that is part of its message.’
Edinburgh International Book Festival, Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 13 Aug, 8.30pm, £10 (£8).