Joe Sacco was born in Malta, October 2, 1960. He moved around the world to Australia, before settling in Los Angeles in 1972 and eventually to Portand, Oregon. As a child he vividly remembers buying war comics and Mad magazine 1950s reprints. He studied at the University of Oregon and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1981. He continued to travel extensively in the 1980s living in Europe and Malta where he worked as a cartoonist, an editor and an arts news editor for various comics presses, including The Comics Journal. He traveled to the Middle East for the first time in 1992 with the material that would make up his groundbreaking comic PALESTINE. Sacco was the recipient of the prestigious American Book Award in 1996 for the series. In 1995, just prior to the Dayton Peace Accord, Sacco travelled to Sarajevo and its surrounding areas. There he began his book SAFE AREA: GORAZDE.
He has also contributed short pieces of graphic reportage to a variety of magazines, on subjects ranging from war crimes to blues, and was a frequent illustrator of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor. In 2005 he wrote and drew two eight-page comics depicting events in Iraq published in The Guardian. He also contributed a 16-page piece in April 2007's issue of Harper's Magazine, entitled, Down! Up! You're in the Iraqi Army Now. In 2009, his Footnotes in Gaza was published, which investigates two forgotten massacres that took place in Khan Younis and Rafah in November 1956. In June 2012, a book on poverty in the United States, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, co-written with journalist Chris Hedges, was published.
In addition to his 1996 American Book Award, 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, and 2001 Eisner Award, Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza was nominated for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Graphic Novel award. Sacco was awarded the 2010 Ridenhour Book Prize for Footnotes in Gaza. He was award the 2012 Oregon Book Award for Footnotes in Gaza and 2014 Oregon Book Award Finalist for Journalism.
This conversation also features Chris Brayshaw from Pulp Fiction Books, filmmaker Sobhi Al-Zobaidi, Broken Pencil editor Alison Lang, and Roxanne Panchasi from SFU’s History Department.