Acclaimed 90s graphic novel on occupied Palestine experiences “soaring demand”

Since its release, Joe Sacco’s Palestine has been lauded by authorities of the Middle East crisis and comic readers alike. Now, its reprint schedule has been hurried forward.

Date
15 December 2023

The publisher Fantagraphics has run through all existing stock of the graphic novel Palestine in “a matter of a month” following the current crisis in Gaza. Fantagraphics has pushed forward a reprint of the book, usually only reprinted once every two years to account for all orders, and will be releasing a new hardcover edition with an additional foreword in autumn 2024.

The American illustrator and journalist Joe Sacco based Palestine on over 100 interviews with Palestinians and Jews during extended visits to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the early 1990s. When he returned to the United States, he converted his notes and eyewitness reportage into the nine-issue comic Palestine, which quickly became a landmark piece of graphic journalism. It has been compared to Art Spiegelman’s Maus, which used illustration to interpret interviews between the author and his father, a Polish Jew who lived through the Holocaust.

“Demand [for Palestine] has occasionally increased over the past 20 years depending on events, but we’ve never seen an increase in demand as great as this – which probably parallels the unprecedented violence and consequent media attention the current event is getting worldwide (at least since 1967),” says Fantagraphics president Gary Groth.

The Palestinian-American activist and author Edward Said said: “With the exception of one or two novelists and poets, no one has ever rendered this terrible state of affairs better than Joe Sacco.” Edward Said writes the introduction for the one-volume version of Palestine which Fantagraphics has sold since 2001; the foreword in the new hardback edition will be written by Israeli journalist Amira Hass and will appear alongside Said’s introduction.

GalleryJoe Sacco: Palestine (Copyright © Fantagraphics, 2001)

In recent months, book reviewers and academics have been recommending Sacco’s Palestine online, particularly on TikTok, as a way to learn more about the history of Gaza, giving the 30-year-old novel fresh readership.

Fantagraphics’ Gary Groth believes Palestine is still highly pertinent to readers today. “Unfortunately, I think Sacco’s Palestine will be as relevant as it was in the 1990s for as long as a solution isn’t negotiated between the Palestinians and the Israelis and peace isn’t established,” he says. “Sadly, virtually nothing has changed from the time Joe wrote and drew the book until now; if anything, the suffering of the Palestinian people has only gotten worse over the years, and that suffering, which Joe captured so poignantly, is the same now as it was then: millions of people living under occupation in squalor, with no hope for the future. The great strength of Joe’s work is that he created a sympathetic portrait of an oppressed people without being ideologically strident.”

Palestine is currently out of stock on the Fantagraphics website; the publisher will be taking orders again on 17 December.

GalleryJoe Sacco: Palestine (Copyright © Fantagraphics, 2001)

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Joe Sacco: Palestine (Copyright © Fantagraphics, 2001)

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Joe Sacco: Palestine (Copyright © Fantagraphics, 2001)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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