“Why did you come to Gorazde?”
“Why? Because you are still here, not raped and scattered, not entangled in the limbs of thousands of others at the bottom of a pit. Because Gorazde had lived.”
Joe Sacco’s explanation for why he came to Gorazde, one of the UN-declared “safe areas” in Bosnia, which I quote above, flutters down the page in small rectangles of text across a two-page drawing of life going on – two men and an elderly woman chop firewood, a group of boys circle a soccer ball, two young women wearing knapsacks amble past tight hay mounds, while above the people small apartment blocks bear pockmarks from shrapnel and bullets. Joe Sacco started doing comics in the 80s, crafting wild tales of indie rock bands. He reinvented himself as a war correspondent, starting with a series on the intifada in Palestine. Sacco’s informants in Gorazde often seem as baffled as anyone as to how their home became a battleground. Many remember strong friendships that crumbled when ethnic lines became sharpened and uncrossable. Visual detail is often striking, from the weary faces to burnt-out cars in the street. On one page Sacco draws a series of ad hoc water wheels tethered beneath a bridge. “They were fashioned out of wood, barrels, parts of cars, bits of washing machines … Electric wire brought a modest current to a small percentage of Gorazde’s homes.” A portrait of war emerges from many stories, some modest, some harrowing, some merely eccentric. Whether the stories add up to an explanation for the killing, it’s tough to say. But there we go, trying to make sense out of it all.
Check the BPL catalog for this title: Safe Area Gorazde