Tag Archives: Guy Delisle

Thompson, Delisle, Sacco and comics non-fiction

panelsoba.jpgThat’s Joe Sacco, to the right, looking out of the window in a restaurant in the old part of Sarajevo. As usual he is passive — listening to the stories that other people tell him, observing life around him and presumably taking notes, though in this frame, he doesn’t seem to have a notebook with him. He looks a lot like a — journalist. Oh. There’s no drawing pad, either. And that’s what usually separates him from other journalists: He is recording conversations,
observations, scenes AND he’s drawing them.

By this particular moment in War’s End: Profiles From Bosnia 1995-96 (2005, Drawn and Quarterly Books), Sacco has drawn and interviewed his subject, Soba, a lot. He’s also drawn the streets of Sarajevo, the insides of clubs and restaurants and apartments. He’s proven to be sympathetic to Soba’s account of his combat against the Serb nationalists attempting to defeat the Bosnian independence movement — he’s listened, he’s drawn, he’s located himself in the narrative. And something wonderful has happened: We’ve gotten to know Soba.
Continue reading Thompson, Delisle, Sacco and comics non-fiction

Part four — Joe Sacco’s extreme journalism (extremely good)

For the intro to this series click here. Do the same for Part two and Partthree.

cover War’s End, by Joe Sacco
Both Craig Thompson (even in the looser diary format of Carnet de Voyage) and Guy Delisle follow comic book conventions. In Thompson’s work they show up in the idealized women, for example, the relative inexpressiveness of the faces and in the representation of himself as a Woody Allen kind of character usually underdrawn compared to the rest of the characters. Delisle’s Pyongyang reads even more like a comic — lots of frames per page, action (what there is!) moving along linearly, and his own self-depiction is VERY cartoony: none of the other characters is so unnaturalistic.

Sacco lives in a different world — War’s End: Profiles from Bosnia 1995-96 wants to demolish the acceptable boundaries of comics, the affect of most Sacco books. The subject matter is grimmer. The drawings act as though they want to spill off the page. Words can fill huge chunks of space. (There are moments in Carnet that resemble Sacco’s work: Thompson has cited Sacco as an influence.) I like the subversion and the obsession with getting it right: We interpret it immediately as “seriousness of purpose,” and I accept it as a reasonable account of what happened, especially the events that Sacco witnessed directly.

Continue reading Part four — Joe Sacco’s extreme journalism (extremely good)

Part three — Guy Delisle: How empty is it?

For Part Two on Craig Thompson, click here. The introduction is here.
Pyongyang detail
Like Carnet de Voyage, though less explicitly, Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea is a journal of a trip. In this case it’s Guy Delisle’s business trip to North Korea. Delisle, a French Canadian, worked for a French animation company, which farmed out big chunks of the actual animation to North Korea (Delisle says that Eastern European studios also get lots of this sort of work). Basically, the North Koreans take their cue from the the “key” drawings in a movement sequence and fill in the drawings between them. Delisle supervised their work.

But animation “experiences,” though informative (think about the whale rendering passages in Moby Dick, except shorter), don’t occupy many of the frames of Pyongyang. Instead, Delisle records the life he finds in North Korea. There is one very great difficulty to this: He must be accompanied everywhere he goes by a guide and translator. And he must stay in an almost empty hotel for foreigners, which is cut off from the rest of the city. So the book takes us on a series of excursions, some more impromptu than others, as Delisle attempts to get closer to the “real” Korea than the government wants him to get. If anyone has a complaint about loneliness, it’s Delisle, but he rarely mentions it. Instead, he works on his guides, trying to trick them into an admission of some kind or get them to take him somewhere off-limits. They seem pretty tolerant, even friendly in a distant sort of way, but they are NOT going to fall for Delisle’s tricks.
Continue reading Part three — Guy Delisle: How empty is it?