Saturday, February 1, 2014

Joe Sacco & Alfonso Zapico

People keep asking me if I`m "scouting" here in Cartagena and though that's not the reason I came, I have to admit, it's one of the things that draws me personally to literary Festivals.

Today I discovered a writer whose name I've heard but whose work I didn't know very well: Joe Sacco. Born in Malta, Sacco was raised in the US and originally trained as a journalist. His love of comics, though, eventually overrode all the journalism he was doing and I'd say now he's one of the few graphic journalists working today.

He insists on calling himself a cartoonist first but there's no denying that his work has important journalistic elements.

He has written about Russia's Chechnyan problem, Sarajevo, Palestine, and US poverty. His latest work is called The Great War and is at the top of my list next week...

I love how detailed his art is: you can look at a page and study it for the longest time, seeing something new with each scane of the panels. When you consider, for example, the work of Guy Delisle (another excellent cartoonist who flirts with non-fiction subjects), it's like comparing a pencil sketch to a painting.

At any rate, Sacco is an author I definitely envision at Blue Met at some point in the future.

Another graphic novelist whose work I do know is Alfonso Zapico, a high profile translation of his La ruta Joyce which traced James Joyce's Dubliners is excellent. I also found a copy of Cafe Budapest and leafed through it a few months back. I love his blend of true life stories with the highly fictionalized panels of characters. Zapico is an interesting figure and represents, I think, a burgeoning comics industry in the Spanish-speaking world. Unfortunately, not much gets translated into English (more into French). I guess that's a good reason to improve my Spanish...

I love this blending of genres with cartoons: journalism, history, biography, politics, war: it's a hopeful sign at this time when journalism is going through such major transition throughout the world. A new way of telling stories, true or otherwise, a new way of exposing, of praising, a new way of enlightening.


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