It's rare for a Fanboy Rampage to start out with "You guys are right." But when Kirstin Butler tried to stem criticism that her piece for the Atlantic entitled Comic Books as Journalism: 10 Masterpieces of Graphic Nonfiction did not include any work by Joe Sacco, whether Palestine or Footnotes In Gaza, it didn't quite come off as she intended, despite her revealing honesty. Kirstin wrote;
You guys are right–I almost included Footnotes in Gaza but chickened out at the last moment because the topic is so polarizing. I was already expecting heat from rank-and-file fanboys/girls about the overall list and didn't want to brave the Palestine question as well.
But as designer Stefan Sagmeister once said to an editor who asked him to tone down an illustration, this work is graphic, and that's precisely its purpose. Should I write another roundup, Sacco won't be missing from it.
Unleash the Fanboy Rampage!
Rajaa: This is disturbing. You cut out a great work because of the fear of the polarizing issue of Israel-Palestine?
More like, you didn't want to get any flack from the pro-Israel camp. I'm counting the minutes until you get called antisemitic/Holocaust-denier/Hamas-supporter/etc. for even mentioning Footnotes in Gaza.
You're certainly not the first person to self-censor on this issue, and sadly you won't be the last.
It's 2011, it's about time the Palestinians get humanized in popular art.
Joseph: This is really sad…at my school newspaper they had a name for these articles I tried to write about Palestinians "too political". The protests in Israel don't mention the occupation because that is "too political". And now Footnotes in Gaza is called "too polarizing". Jim Crow was a polarizing issue too but history looks kindly upon those who questioned it and didn't "chicken out".
veelo2: How unfortunate and cowardly. Censoring yourself before they can censor you. If everyone does this, maybe we can completely forget the people of Gaza exist at all.
Jim_Holstun: How appalling. Just imagine what it would be like if Joe Sacco were as pusillanimous a cartoonist as you are a journalist.
Cringe, shiver, and shake.
iam draize: Wow. What an incredible thing to admit to. You censored your list and didn't include an important work of non-fiction because it was so 'polarizing'.
And this in an article where you offer your opinion about comics that deal with…journalism?
You've definitely lost the plot….
Ste Thomas: Your candid cowardice doesn't fool anyone. You were FORBIDDEN from including Joe Stacco.
Richard Nasser: Kirstin, what does "brav(ing) the Palestine question" mean to you? What exactly were you trying to avoid? Did you expect death threats from outraged Zionists? Did you fear for your career? What horrible consequence did you imagine would ensue from your choosing to honor someone whose work you believed deserved honoring? I mean, withholding credit from someone you admit deserved it is a big deal.
And why wait for your (unlikely) revisit to a 10-best list? If you regret leaving Sacco off your honor roll, why not say so in an addendum to or edit of the original piece? Does The Atlantic not permit corrections?
You'll be doing the right thing both to Sacco and yourself, and it would be journalistically more interesting than doing nothing.
USA_objector: You should reverse your cowardice immediately and revise this article accordingly. It's shocking that you would create a "Top Ten" list and exclude Joe Sacco's masterpiece. If you can't be intellectually honest, then pass on the assignment.
Sacco's book succeeds in bringing a controversial chapter in history to the reader in the form of a spectacular graphic novel. Because it succeeds in this objective, you are too fearful to include it in its rightful place. Way to go, Kirstin Butler. Way to go.
Benjamen Walker: Kristin – I am very proud that you have left this comment of yours up – I hope everyone who Googles you comes across it! And I hope you never ever ever write anything about comics again! You should pick another topic as you have just proved you are totally and completely incompetent.
M. Carens-Nedelsky: I would much rather you write a piece at this point exploring your reticence to even mention Joe Sacco for fear of it being "polarizing" and the modern mediascape you find yourself in where there is such fear of simply touching on Israel or Palestine. But it's pretty evident you don't possess that sort of journalistic courage. Are you sure you actually read the Influencing Machine? Or did you just make this list from a google search?
And even if you HAD wanted to avoid Israel and Palestine, you could have mentioned Safe Area Gorazde or The Fixer (as other commentators have noted). So you're cowardly AND stupid.
Oh, and BTW, Guy Delise's next book is about his time in Jeruslamen…during the war with Gaza.
Nancy Kricorian: I think The Atlantic's readers would be very interested to learn if the editors were aware — or had anything to do with the fact — that Joe Sacco was left off of the list because the "topic" he treats with such empathy and artistry in Footnotes to Gaza is so "polarizing." It's time The Atlantic stopped treating its readers as blindly Israel-can-do-no-wrong idiots who couldn't abide hearing from or even about an accomplished critical voice.
Next time, Kirstan, just stick to which is the better X-Man. Maybe who's better, Kitty Pryde of Dust might be a good place to start?
Fanboy Rampage was a blog by Graeme McMillan dedicated to the funniest, most ludicrous and most inappropriate comic book back-and-forths online. McMillan has moved on now, becoming a proper journalist for the likes of Newsarama and Spinoff but he gave permission to Bleeding Cool to revive his great creation. Feel free to contribute your own spots of online excess.