Date: October 7, 2011, 7:30 pm
Location: Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library

Joe Sacco is a Maltese citizen currently residing in Portland, OR where he makes his living as a cartoonist and journalist.

Sacco received his bachelor of arts degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 1981. Two years later he returned to his native Malta, where his first professional cartooning work (a series of romance comics) was published. After relocating back to Portland, he co-edited and co-published the monthly comics newspaper Portland Permanent Press from 1985 to 1986; PPP lasted 15 issues, and included early work by such cartoonists as John Callahan and J.R. Williams. In 1986, Sacco moved to the Los Angeles area, where he worked on staff for Fantagraphics Books, editing the news section for the trade publication The Comics Journal and creating the satirical comic magazine Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy.

When he returned again to Portland in mid-1992, it was with the intention of communicating what he had witnessed and heard during his Mid-Eastern jaunt — to combine the techniques of eyewitness reportage with the medium of comics storytelling to explore this complex, emotionally weighted situation. Palestine, the first issue of which was released in January, 1993, was the result. In the years subsequent to the release of Palestine, Sacco has gained widespread praise for the depth of his research, the sensitivity of his handling of a delicate subject, as well as for the craft exhibited in his dynamic, sophisticated layouts and bold narrative. Palestine earned Sacco the prestigious American Book Award in 1996, and set new standards for the use of the comic book as a documentary medium, and was the first non-fiction graphic novel to invite serious comparison with Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus.

In 1998, Sacco was commissioned by Details magazine's then-comix editor, Art Spiegelman, to cover the Bosnian War Crime Trials in the Hague, Netherlands. His six-page story was hailed as one of the best pieces of journalism in the magazine's history, and the magazine promptly commissioned a second strip from Sacco. The second time around, Sacco was sent on tour with R.L. Burnside, one of the elder statesmen of the great living Mississippi bluesmen (Sacco is a great aficionado of classic American blues). The strip was published in the May 2000 cover-dated issue.

In 2000, Sacco finished his first major follow-up to Palestine: a 240-page exploration of a small Muslim enclave in Bosnia called Gorazde (titled Safe Area Gorazde: The War In Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995) and based upon Sacco's recent travels to the war-torn region. Published in August 2000, the book received the most attention of any of Sacco's books to date, with major coverage from TIME magazine, The New York Times, NPR, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, and dozens of other publications.