The graphic novel that I chose to read for this graphic novel review was War’s End: Profiles from Bosnia by Joe Sacco. This graphic novel depicts the war in Bosnia by showing two different sides of the conflict that allow you to grasp just what it was that happened in one story and how it must have felt in another. Both stories in this novel are true accounts of things that happened from the perspective of the author who was a war reporter and from a Bosnian soldier named Soba. The first chapter, after reading the book, seems to be an interview with Soba where he recounts how his life was affected by the war and his experience during it as a person laying and defusing land mines. This was my favorite chapter of the book for several reasons, but primarily I loved the way that the illustrations were done to tell the story. One of the most consistent desig
n concepts that I see them use throughout the story is framing. As with any story, Soba’s story of war comes with its highs and lows, and in order to accurately represent these things the author recounts Soba’s fond memories on white pages and transitions to his bad memories on black pages. Also a good use of color and contrast, Sacco does this to make the despairing images not just seem darker when you look at the page but feel darker when you read the story.
This picture from page 9 is a perfect representation of this concept. On the top of the page, Soba is in a bar with his friends and they’re obviously having a good time with each other, and then the page transitions to black behind the frames of the story and he starts talking about how he had to burn books to stay warm and eat things not even a dog would.
Another common theme that you see from this story is Sacco’s use of texture in the frames where he wants you to feel anxious. This largely happens on the pages with black borders as they are usually the areas he is introducing something ominous. Page 14 is a perfect example of this as Soba is recounting his experience in the field disarming a planting mines with nothing but a stick that you get to look for the mines with. The frames on the top half of the page depict him crawling through enemy territory and disarming the mine, and over the top of each of the frames are thin vertical lines clustered together across the entire picture that gives it a very suspenseful feel as if there’s a lot going on.
Christmas with Karadzic is the second story in the novel and, although it wasn’t my favorite section of the book, it was still very valuable as part of the story and was also very well illustrated. This section of the story was about Joe Sacco’s experience as a reporter after the Dayton Accords and his trip into Republika Srpska to interview the Bosnian president, Karadzic, who was the instigator of the Bosnian War and at this point was a convicted war criminal. One thing that this section did very well was showing motion through a scene. Page 45 is a good example of this as he depicts a car as moving so fast it is literally flying, and it really gets the point across as to how fast he is going.