I Saw It: Graphic Narrative and Witnessing War


This talk focuses on the form of comics and what it means to bear witness to war through this handmade word-and-image medium. Inspired by the traumas of WWII and also the war in Vietnam, the form of comics emerged across the globe as a documentary medium in the 1970s. This presentation charts this development through attention to field-establishing work by Japanese cartoonist Keiji Nakazawa, a Hiroshima survivor, and American cartoonist Art Spiegelman, whose parents survived Poland’s death camps. It considers contemporary modes of visual witnessing and their relation to many long histories and traditions of visual witness, looking to key antecedents and also to new genres like Joe Sacco’s “comics journalism.”