• “History Bleeds”: Graphically Recording Time in Maus and Safe Area Goražde

    Robert Yeates (see profile)
    Comic books, strips, etc.--Study and teaching, War, Genocide, Journalism, Comic books, strips, etc., Graphic novels
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Oklahoma State University Humanities Conference Second Annual Meeting: Frontiers and Borders
    Conf. Org.:
    Oklahoma State University
    Conf. Loc.:
    Stillwater, OK
    Conf. Date:
    Mar. 10, 2012
    War, Time, Comics studies, War and genocide, Comics journalism, Narrative and time, Visual culture, Comics
    Permanent URL:
    In an interview with Hillary Chute, shortly after the publication of Footnotes in Gaza (2009), Joe Sacco describes his impression of the insistence of the past on the present: “It’s almost as if history bleeds. In people’s minds, one bit of history bleeds into another bit of history. … And it gives you this idea … that history hasn’t really stopped.” His words here call to mind the work of another comics creator, Art Spiegelman, whose Maus: A Survivor’s Tale volume I (1986) is subtitled “My Father Bleeds History.” The suggestion is that the process of drawing out the past is a bloodletting, a “slow, painful effusion of history” (“The Shadow of a Past Time” 203), but this choice of words also points to a quality particular to comics form, that of the potential for the immediacy of past, present and future in panel-based graphic representation. Comics are uniquely placed to play with representations of the passing of time, often engaging directly with issues of history, memory and trauma through their formal elements. Maus I and II (1991) and Sacco’s Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-95 (2000) are two works that represent a narrative based on second-hand memory, framing their narratives by the process involved in recording history. For Sacco and Spiegelman history is a fluid construct, leaking into and mixing with the present, and this is addressed consciously in their formal choices on the page. This paper will explore the ways in which both writers approach the issue of representing time, using Maus and Safe Area Goražde to draw comparisons in their use of comics form, and arguing for the unique advantages of the form in representing the flexibility of temporal space.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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