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Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Iraq in comics

Over on Slate, there's a selection of some of the best new comic books commenting on the Iraq war, including a mention for the much-talked about Web comic Shooting War by Anthony Lappé which Warner Books is publishing in 2007 as the first title in its new graphic novel line.

With statistics now suggesting the insurgency costing the US some $200 million a day to maintain its presence in Iraq - so you have to wonder how much it's costing Britain to maintain its forces in southern Iraq - the feature is a timely reminder of how what's happening in the Middle East is affecting us all on many different levels.

Slate writer Dan Klois reckons the best comics story he's read about the Iraq war is Brian Wood's DMZ, a dystopian vision of New York under siege, and it's certainly earned a host of both comics and mainstream kudos. The Chicago Sun Times described it as "addictive and brutal, and a perfect antidote to the flag-waving Fox News broadcasts of the War on Terror." Vertigo collected some of the material as DMZ: On the Ground last year and it's available from

As with past conflicts, comics creators have offered some very different stories about the conflict, from straight-ahead embedded journalism to baldfaced military boosterism. Personally, I was impressed enough with Joe Sacco's tale of his travels through Iraq, published in The Guardian to download this 37 meg electronic version. (Strange how the Guardian has been so thoughtful about the war for so long, then does something as darn stupid as putting an image of Saddam hanged on its cover this week, a decision which deeply upset my Mum, me and countless other readers of its pages. Yet it balked at publishing the controversial Danish cartoons that caused such a storm of protest last year. Go figure!).

I've also enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan's Pride of Baghdad, re-published by Titan Books late in 2006, which did away with humans entirely, focusing on a pride of lions loose in war-torn Baghdad

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