Savage lines – illustrating history in unique and powerful ways.
Some historical subjects are so emotive that artists and writers are compelled to create books that need illustration to show fully the story of an event. The combination of words, pictures and great design can depicted history in such powerful and emotive ways that the story being told will have far greater impact than if just told in words.
One example is Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde. This graphic novel is a powerful and shocking account of the Bosnian War when Joe Sacco travelled four times to Gorazde in Bosnia. His storytelling and illustrations present a harrowing account of the vicious siege and ‘ethnic cleansing’ that took place.
The Hiroshima Story by Japanese artist and writer Toshi Maruki (The Hiroshima Panels) is another book that uses powerful illustration to show the tragic bombing of Hiroshima in a shocking and moving way. To sit with this book and see the story of a family on that fateful day gives moving insight into that awful event.
Other artists such as Raymond Briggs have used their illustrations to recreate a period in history. His book Ethel and Earnest tells the story of his parents and childhood during the second world war in England. This completely illustrated novel not only allows Raymond Briggs to tell his story but also illustrate in detail the times they lived through.
Erica’s Story tells of a chance encounter when the author Ruth Vander Zee met a woman who did not know her name, did not know her birth date but knew that she had been born sometime in 1944. All she knew was that sometime when just few months old she was saved from the Holocaust. In this book the author and her illustrator Roberto Innocenti with publishers Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape have designed a book that conveys in a unique and powerful way a moment in history.
In all these books the words and pictures combine to create a powerful and lasting experience in the mind of the reader.
Christopher Sharville © 2016. If you spot any inaccuracies please get in touch. We are always willing to learn.