The Fixer: A Story From Sarajevo by Joe Sacco (Drawn and Quarterly), 105 pages, $32.95 paper. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
Joe Sacco is a war correspondent cartoonist. Like other journalists, he travels to places where people are killing each other and documents life amidst political turmoil. Unlike other journalists, he creates phenomenally detailed comics as opposed to text. His new graphic novel, The Fixer, picks apart the complexities of political pandemonium in the Balkans. Set in Sarajevo, the book reaches back to life in the early 1990s for burly, forthright Neven. Born to a Serbian father and a Muslim mother, he consciously choses the Bosnian side of the war and fights in a warlord's army.
In 1995, after being forced to retire by the very man who recruited him, Neven becomes a opportunistic "fixer" who survives by giving foreign journalists the information they need to write sensationalist stories.
Sacco goes back to Sarajevo in 2001 to find Neven in the aftermath. During the search for his missing informant, Sacco encounters people who describe a different Neven. While the man did fight valiantly to defend Sarajevo, he also embellished stories to make them more palatable to the Western media.
Sacco's drawings leave you with the feeling that you're witnessing reality. It's strangely fitting that one man's perspective can allow you to make sense of a nonsensical situation, whereas all the facts and eyewitness reports in major newspapers and on TV just made things more confusing.
Sacco's other chronicles include Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, Stories From Bosnia and Notes From A Defeatist. He reads, shows slides and answers questions tonight (Thursday, October 9). See Readings, this page.
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