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Portraits of War

Pete Springer/OPB

Portland comic artist Joe Sacco has gained international attention for his graphic novels about war. He has documented his many travels to battle-torn parts of the world, including Palestine and Bosnia, illustrating the conflicts and the lives of people affected.

His work is distinctive not only for for its medium, but also for his particular brand of war reportage. Sacco’s books are considerably more subjective than much traditional war reporting: he draws himself in his stories, adds his opinion about the war and his sources, and details his frustrations and fears. He also often covers incidents that took place years ago and have largely fallen from the focus of the traditional media. In his latest work, Footnotes In Gaza, Sacco explores two 50-year-old incidents in Gazan towns that resonate to this day.

We’ll be talking with Joe Sacco and with others to explore the ethics and challenges of the job.

Is is possible to stay objective in a war zone? Or in a conflict that involves your home country?

Is a journalist’s primary obligation to be an objective chronicler of a war — however that is achieved — or should she focus on promoting peace, or seeking justice, or some other principle?

What kinds of war stories do you seek out? And how best do you think you can understand what’s happening in a war zone?

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