Graphic News in a Graphic Era


In an age where we are pummeled by media from every direction, I often become lost and unable to determine which source of media is truly relevant, and which is just tabloid garbage. This, along with the rise in technology, has really diminished the value of the written word. Why would we read a twenty-page journal article on the effects of Methane gas in the atmosphere, when we can watch a ten-minute clip on YouTube, and effectively proclaim to the entire populace that we are experts on the matter. In THIS generation, graphic novels such as Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Journalism by Joe Sacco holds true to the detailed text needed for certain stories while still catering to our ever growing want for captivating graphic forms of media. From the onset Persepolis captivates you, its artistic style of heavy black and white evenly separated comic strips along with the unintimidating text sizes draws you in. This novel, so unthreateningly simple at first glace is not all what it seems. You’ve heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” well Persepolis embodies this idea to it’s fullest. Told through the eyes of a child, this book lulls your mind into feelings of childlike euphoria, but this is when it gets interesting. Bam! All of a sudden you get images of death, of public executions, citywide bombings, and torture; and yet, the child’s demeanor doesn’t change, she still enjoys her life. I was so confused when I first saw this, the idea of these things happening in my own backyard is unfathomable to me as an American. We live in our own private bubble of 1st world safety, which is why it took me so long to realize that this was her reality. She lived this day and night, 24-7, four weeks a month, twelve months a year until she was twelve, that’s terrifying to me. This graphic novel, or comic book, or whatever you want to call it hit home with me; ripped through the numbness to violence of this age and hit home, that is not an easy accomplishment.


Now Journalism, although just as powerful, was a different kind of graphic novel all together.  Containing several journalism stories in one book, Journalism takes a much more real approach to introducing you to some of the horrible realities of our world. Although still comic book-est, each image is based on real photos taken by Joe Sacco, and he focuses much more on the facial expressions of each person. The emotion of the scenes jumps out, you feel immersed, completely sure that you experienced this moment yourself and not through the lens of media. Interlaced with large quantities of text both narrative and speech, Journalism gives you everything found in a standard newspaper article. However, unlike it’s predecessor, Joe Sacco’s own style of media brings something more to the table; it brings human emotion, it brings depth, it brings reality. The rough rugged lines of his art combined with the deeply informative writing that only comes from a well decorated journalist, makes for an unbeatable combination. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to jump into my favorite books and experience them firsthand, however, after reading Journalism I wonder no longer.


One thought on “Graphic News in a Graphic Era

  1. Really excellent reflection here, Tyler. I am so glad you found both of these works compelling. I have read them several times over, and each time I am deeply moved. I was about 13 or 14 when the Shah was kicked out of Iran, so of course it was ALL over the news, and so was the Iran/Iraq War. But, I don’t ever recall seeing the lives of real people. And that is what Satrapi and Sacco do, they show us real people in their everyday lives, struggling to survive and finding laughter and joy when they can. This is the power I think of this medium when it is done well.

    Don’t forget to read two articles or one article and one video from D2L to discuss in addition to the material we cover in class.

    8/10 (no articles discussed)


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