8 Graphic Novels By Joe Sacco That Take You into Restricted Zones Around The World

Joe Sacco stands as a colossus in the realm of graphic journalism, using his pen and ink to sketch the zones of conflict that shape our world. In his graphic novels, Sacco doesn’t just tell us stories — he invites us to walk through history, to sit with the people living the aftermath of political decisions, and to question the narratives handed down to us. If you want to understand the global political scenario, the eight books of Joe Sacco listed below are good primers to learn about the world. Let’s explore these restricted areas with him, ending with a literary palate cleanser that takes us from stark reality into the realm of dystopian fiction.

Safe Area Goražde

Our journey begins in the enclave of Goražde during the Bosnian War. Sacco’s “Safe Area Goražde” is a meticulous account of the lives caught in the crossfire. He spent months living there, documenting stories of survival and loss. The novel is a poignant reminder of the fragility of peace and the endurance of the human spirit amidst chaos.


Next, we step into the heart of the Middle East with “Palestine.” This work, a mix of journalism and memoir, portrays the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sacco navigates the daily lives and struggles of Palestinians with a compassionate lens, reminding us that in the midst of political conflict, ordinary lives continue — filled with hopes, dreams, and the pursuit of happiness.

Footnotes in Gaza

We delve deeper into the Middle East with “Footnotes in Gaza.” Sacco revisits a largely forgotten massacre in 1956, reconstructing the events through interviews and research. This novel is a testament to the forgotten stories of history, urging us to remember and acknowledge the narratives that have been overshadowed or lost.

The Fixer

In “The Fixer,” Sacco brings us to Sarajevo, post-Siege, where he meets a man who sells war stories to journalists. It’s a graphic novel that exposes the gritty underbelly of war journalism, raising questions about truth and the stories that sell.

Notes from a Defeatist

Before taking us into the war zones, Sacco introspects in “Notes from a Defeatist.” Here, we find a collection of his early works, where he grapples with his own cynicism and the broader context of war. It is a raw, humorous, and sometimes bleak look into the artist’s psyche before he confronts the world’s dark corners.

Bumf Vol. 1

Sacco takes a detour into the realms of the absurd with “Bumf Vol. 1,” where he satirizes government bureaucracy and the military. In this series, he critiques the absurdities of power and control, providing a sharp, darkly comic relief from his otherwise serious subjects.

The Great War

Then we come to “The Great War,” a panoramic illustration of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. This wordless novel unfolds like a silent film, its continuous tableau a stark depiction of the scale and machinery of war. It’s a powerful visual narrative that leaves the reader reflecting on the enormity of war’s impact.

Paying the Land

Finally, Sacco takes us to Canada’s Northwest Territories in “Paying the Land,” where he explores the Dene people’s struggle against the impacts of colonialism and resource extraction. It’s a story about the land and those who live on it, about culture, and about the complex relationship between development and tradition.

After traversing the globe with Sacco, we turn to “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore and David Lloyd for an escape into speculative fiction. This graphic novel allows us to channel our weariness with the real world into a fight against fictional tyranny. It’s a cathartic conclusion to a heavy reading list, offering a blend of hope and anarchy as a counterpoint to Sacco’s stark realities.

In the words of Sacco himself, “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” Through his work, we gain not just an understanding of ‘yesterday’ but also of the nuances and the human faces behind today’s headlines. Sacco’s novels are a graphic testament to the power of bearing witness, of remembering, and, ultimately, of understanding. And perhaps, in understanding, we find the first steps toward change.

Pick up any or all of the books on bookstores from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

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