In late 1991 to 1992 Joe Sacco spent two months among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, interviewing people, taking notes, and listening to personal accounts. He documented what he saw and heard in a series of comics that was later published in a one volume format simply titled Palestine, which won a 1996 American Book Award. A special expanded hardcover edition with previously unpublished material is due out this August from Fantagraphics.
His work has been compared to, and praised by, Art Spiegelman, the creator of the award-winning Maus. Though categorized as a graphic novel it is actually nonfiction first-person journalistic account, told in a comic book format, a technique he also uses in Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95.
Books like Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, by former president Jimmy Carter have brought renewed attention, and perhaps a new perspective, to discussions of the region but Sacco's book is powerful and unique because it shows us, through a series of personal anecdotes, each illustrated in journalistic detail, what daily life is like under a prolonged and repressive occupation. In doing so he very effectively humanizes people struggling to live with an impossible situation.
I found this book fascinating because these are stories that don't make it onto the evening news (and obviously most of us are unlikely to experience what it's like to be there ourselves). Admittedly, this is not a "fun" topic, but don't be put off-- it is not without humor. I enjoyed the author's cynical, self-depracting style (he renders himself in a most unflattering self-caricature).
It is easy to ignore dry, abstract news items but much harder to forget the intimate personal stories of individual people, which I believe is ultimately the author's point, one which he succeeds brilliantly in making.