War is hell. We’ve all heard this before, but for those of us who have never seen it up close, it can be difficult to understand fully. Fax from Sarajevo provides a firsthand account of what war is actually like for the innocent civilians who happen to get caught up in it.
In 1992, the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia comes under siege. Innocent people are killed by bombers, snipers, and other means. Homes are destroyed. The media can’t be trusted to report the situation accurately. But Ervin Rustemagic, stuck in the city with his family and witnessing the horrors firsthand, provides regular accounts of what’s going on via a series of faxes. On the receiving end of those faxes are his friends, Joe and Muriel Kubert, living safely thousands of miles away in New Jersey.
This is the premise of the comic, but it’s also the truth. Joe Kubert is the author of this comic which was originally published in 1996, just a few months after the siege ended. Throughout the story, Kubert reprints many of the faxes that he and others received from Ervin over the course of a couple of years in war-torn Sarajevo.
The story is based on those faxes, as well as accounts of the siege from Ervin and others after the fact. The art is based largely on photos by a journalist named Karim Zaimovic who documented life in Sarajevo during the siege in his own way. Many of the photos are also reprinted at the end of the comic.
Fax from Sarajevo is a powerful and often harrowing story, as Ervin and his family, along with their friends and neighbors, endure and gradually grow accustomed to the violence and destruction raging all around them; however, it’s also a story of survival, of love, and even of hope. At times, it’s difficult to read, but it’s also fascinating and well written to the point where I didn’t want to put it down. If you’re interested in history and want to see a vivid and accurate account of how war affects the lives of innocent people, then Fax from Sarajevo is a must-read.
Creative Team: Joe Kubert (writer and artist)
Publisher: Dark Horse
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