Hillary Chute on comics and violence in Syria

At the New York Times, comics scholar Hillary Chute looks at several current graphic works that directly relate to a civil war-torn Syria. In her column, she reviews comics from Don Brown, Molly Crabapple (and journalist Marwan Hisham), and Riad Sattouf. Here’s Chute, on the third installment of Sattouf’s autobiographical comic:

It’s as if violence is its own country, free-floating and borderless, which Riad ends up visiting more and more. In one of the book’s strangest, most ingenious sequences, Sattouf dedicates four and a half red-and-black saturated pages to a detailed comics-form rendition — like a mini-“Classics Illustrated” — of the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” in which Conan ultimately beheads a man who claims to be his father. Riad and his cousins watch on television, rapt. Later we see — in the icy blue tones of France — how this connects to Riad’s love of cartooning, and even his talent: A panel shows him drawing Conan amid lopped-off body parts, as the book foregrounds his burgeoning artistic ability. “I drew lots of scenes of barbarism,” the narration reads. “I enjoyed the savagery.” If Sattouf grew up inspired to draw versions of violent fantasy movies, eventually he came to draw the violence of his own childhood.

Read the whole column at the NYT. I was thinking about Chute’s recent detailed history of reported and nonfiction comics recently when I wrote about the work that graphic journalist Olivier Kugler does in his coverage of Syrian refugees.