From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. These two stories by Sacco bookend his definitive works of comics journalism on the Bosnian War, The Fixer and Safe Area Gorazde. Like those books, these stories take readers with Sacco as he searches for some truth in all the conjecture and confronts his own fears and suspicions about the war. In the first story, "Christmas with Karadzic," Sacco goes to great, often uproarious lengths to get an interview with the notorious Bosnian war criminal Radovan Karadzic as the leader attends Christmas services. The story climaxes with Sacco observing Karadzic, noting, "I feel nothing intimidating about his presence, nothing extraordinary about this man indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal... a man I have despised with all my heart for years." Rather than reporting the usual facts about Karadzic, Sacco shows him at his most mundane and, consequently, most revealing. In all of his work, Sacco displays a similar knack for seeing a subject from an entirely unexpected view, as he does with the second story, "Soba." The titular character is a regular guy and wanna-be rock star who becomes a war hero to his fellow Sarajevans. His story illuminates the conditions of wartime life and gives readers a lively character to hang onto amid the destruction. This work is painstakingly drawn and reported—it is both great cartooning and moving, revealing reportage. (June)
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Sacco continues his comic-strip reportage on the Bosnian war with this collection of two shorter stories whose events predate Safe Area Gora_de (2000) and The Fixer (2003). In "Christmas with Karadzic," Sacco joins a group of hard-bitten journalists trying to score an interview with Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic, the driving force behind the siege of Sarajevo. "Soba" follows a charismatic Bosnian artist as he hits the bars to obliterate memories of his army job planting land mines. "Christmas" is a brutally honest, first-person account of an encounter with evil; but "Soba" is the stronger piece, thanks to its fascinating protagonist, whose real art is for survival. Sacco's other reports from Bosnia are more substantive, but these stories share their expressive drawing, incisive observation, and shrewd combination of jarring visual perspectives, comic exaggeration, and black humor, which so well convey the chaos of the war. Sacco's Bosnian dispatches remain potent, but his longtime fans may feel he has gone to this particular well too often, and wish he would turn to new subjects. Gordon Flagg
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