Jun 24, 2007

Comics Of Import

im·port (IM-port)

–as a verb (used without object)
to be of consequence or importance; to matter.
(loosely borrowed from dictionary.com)

So.... I wanted to recommend a few comic books that are not only good to read, but also have some sort of societal importance. Also, they use the graphic medium of comic art to convey images that are important to the story itself.
First up: MAUS

You might have heard of this work by Art Speigelman, who put illustrations to the events that happened to his father during WWII and Nazi Germany.
I had known about MAUS for quite some time, but never read it until just a few years ago. Ironically enough, I actually read it on Holocaust Rememberance Day (I didn't plan that, it just worked out that way) and therefore had a particular impact on me.
He uses mice to represent the Jews and Cats for the Nazis, as well as other animals for the other nationalities.
Take a look:

The whole book is very compelling and hard to put down.
If you are into history, and particularly WWII history, this is an incredible story told by a concentration camp survivor to his son.

Next: The Plot
This was one of Will Eisner's last works that he did. He spent several years researching the story and illustrating the pages before he ever collected it and had it published.
It was finished just one month before he died.
It details the history of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and how they came about and their continued use as hate-literature today.
The "Protocols" were used heavily by the Nazis and continue to be a source of so-called "truth" by other anti-Semitic groups to this day.... despite being a complete forgery!
I'm not giving away the story by saying that, because the book details how and why they continue to be used no matter who dis-proves them.

These next three books are from the same author / artist: Joe Sacco
Joe travels to the places he writes about to get the stories he later illustrates and publishes.
Here he travelled to Israel and Palestine, talking to the people who live on both sides of the Occupied Territories. He doesn't make a case for one side or the other, but rather puts the differing viewpoints and prejudices out for everyone to read and try to understand why the violence happens over there.
Safe Area Gorazde:
Travelling to war-torn Bosnia during the 1992-95 conflict, Joe reports on the conditions and people living in this town that didn't get a lot of "press-coverage" compared to Sarajevo.
And The Fixer:

Another story that took place durning the Bosnian War.
This one chonicles the life of a man named Neven who arranges (or "fixes") things for people for money as a way of surviving in Sarajevo.

Yet another book that chronicles the Bosnian War,
Fax From Sarajevo:
Comic legend Joe Kubert tells the story of his friend Ervin who was trapped in Sarajevo, along with his family when the war broke out. The only way they could communicate to the outside world was via faxes, and through these Joe put the book together so Ervin's story would not be lost.

Lastly, here is a rather recent and little-known book by artist / author, Miriam Libicki who tells a semi-autobiographical story about her life in the Israeli army.
She is currently living in British Columbia now, but travels all over promoting her self-published book, Jobnik!.

I had the pleasure of meeting her in Seattle at the Emerald City Comic Con, where I picked-up all her current issues. The story mostly deals with her trying to fit in with her peers and performing her duties in the military, which is an interesting change of pace from the previous books (which deal more directly with war and it's victims).
It also talks about people's attitudes in a war-type scenario, like when they are on leave-of-duty but are told not to carry ANY identification on them to trace them as Israeli soldiers so they wouldn't be targets.

Anyway, just a few books I recommend if you're looking for something that doesn't fall under the "super-hero" shadow of comic books. They are all based on past or current events, so they are worth reading from a historical standpoint.
I think they should be required reading in school, so that students have a different viewpoint than just what they hear and see on TV.
I hope you read them and enjoy them. I did.

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