Graphic Journalism: Insightful or Subjective?

Graphic forms of storytelling are nothing new, but over the last decade we’ve seen a real rise in “Graphic Journalism“, that is to say journalism that covers its content, news and non-fiction events, in the form conventional comic book would. As a hybrid of artist and journalist, Eren Polgreen describes this new form as “a colourful mishmash of influences that include comics, infographics, film, and autobiography”, while Dan Archer describes the goal of his work as a comic journalist as being able to deliver the reader an experience “simultaneously moving, informing and entertaining in equal share”.

While this medium is gaining momentum, it’s quite easy to associate comics with their more classic forms in which they tell stories of fiction and fantasy, suggesting this medium is much more subjective, which even critics that are pro-comic journalism can’t deny.

Despite the negativity, Graphic Journalism is beginning to find its footing in mainstream media. Recently a kickstarter campaign for a publication of graphic journalism titled “Modern Times” was launched by a team of three women, with the aim to tell everyday stories through this medium. In an interview the trio cited Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’ as an inspiration and stated there was “an intimacy to Sacco’s interviews that cannot be translated into photography and text”, going on to describe the unique perspective that an artist in the dual role of journalist and artist can bring to a topic.

This medium is one prone to a lot of controversy. While a lot of people are coming to embrace it as a valid alternate form of journalism there’s still many clinging to more traditional forms. Even with these differing opinions, critics have come to appreciate works like Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza, with one commentator stating that even though he didn’t like the comic “I have to grudgingly admire its creator’s marketing instincts in finding and exploiting such an unlikely genre niche”.

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