Joe Sacco was born in 1960 in the Maltese village of Kirkop and moved with his parents to Australia at the age of nine. Three years later, they moved to Los Angeles and then to Portland. Sacco received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1981. Frustrated by the daily routine of journalism, he reinvented himself as a graphic journalist. Sacco visited numerous crisis and war zones all over the world and turned his research into graphic journalism. »If graphic novels on explosive contemporary historical themes are booming today and if no one any longer denies that comics have the ability to adequately deal with complex contemporary historical themes, this is in no small part due to him.« (»NZZ«)
After visiting Israel and the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip in 1991, he published a series of comics about the Palestinian situation for a two-year period starting in 1993. Combined into two volumes, »Palestine« (2001) received the American Book Award in 1996. Sacco continued the story with »Footnotes in Gaza« (2009), a mixture of oral history and comic coverage, after being inspired by documents from a UN archive: The Israeli army’s massacre of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the Suez Crisis in 1956 appeared in the media as a mere »footnote«, but was deeply traumatizing to those affected and provoked the ever smoldering conflict in the Middle East. For his work, which won the award for »Best International Comic« in Erlangen in 2012, Sacco interviewed surviving witnesses and translated their statements into a many-voiced and impressive book of remembrance.
After staying in the Bosnian enclave of Gorazde at the end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996, Sacco portrayed the Balkan conflict in »Safe Area Gorazde« (2000) from the perspective of the inhabitants there. The multi-ethnic community tries to come to terms with the shock of the war as they live in crumbling houses cut off from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The book was awarded the Eisner Award 2001. In »The Fixer« (2003) and »War’s End« (2005), Sacco paints a many-layered picture of Sarajevo at the end of the Bosnian war in three comics. After »More Women, More Children, More Quickly« (2003) about his mother’s everyday life in Malta during the Second World War, he created the seven-meter-long panorama »The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme« (2014) for the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. The panorama is a chronological account of the first day of the battle that is considered the most costly of the First World War. In his most recent work »Paying the Land« (2020) Sacco explores attacks on the indigenous cultures of North America in the wake of the recent mining boom and the destruction of nature.
Sacco now lives in Portland, Oregon.
Watch Joe Sacco at the 20th ilb on our YouTube-Channel: https://youtu.be/e_DmTP3VIL0