For those of you who know me, it's no secret that I'm a great admirer of the work of cartoonist Joe Sacco. For years now, Sacco has been producing what he calls "comics journalism," a mix of auto-biography and reportage in the style of the "new journalists." These are, to me, some of the most important examples of contemporary cartooning, not only because of their technical and narrative skill but also because of their expansion of the form's generic repertoire.
In a chapter in the recently published The Rise and Reason of Comics and Graphic Literature: Critical Essays on the Form (Amazons.com/.ca), I examine how truthfulness is represented in (ostensibly) non-fiction comics, focussing primarily on Sacco's Palestine. While many scholars have looked at this concept in terms of autobiographical comics, comics journalism--which seems to entail a higher standard of "objective truth"--has been relatively neglected up until this point. I use the twin concepts of "information" and "experience," drawn from the work of the Frankfurt-aligned critic, Walter Benjamin, as ideal-types to structure my examination of comics journalism's "regime of verisimilitude."
This piece has had a long history. I want to thank my friend Bethany Lindsay for providing me with her notes from an unpublished interview she conducted with Sacco and the book's editors, Joyce Goggin and Dan Hassler-Forest.