Works in Progress - Summer 2012

Graphic Poverty

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By Elyse Graham


In the spirit of James Agee and Walker Evans, who famously documented poverty in the Great Depression, a political reporter and a graphic illustrator have teamed up to survey struggles to survive in America today. Their book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, was published in June.

Chris Hedges is a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times who writes a column for Truthdig.com, and Joe Sacco is a journalism-trained graphic illustrator who contributed to Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor and to The Guardian and Harper’s. Two years in the making, their 250-page collaboration combines location reporting with panel illustrations. “To my knowledge, this is the first time this has been done,” Hedges says. “The publisher is a little nervous.”

“We focused on the damage that corporate pillaging has done to individuals, to communities, to the environment,” Hedges says. The pair traveled to such places as Camden, New Jersey; Pine Ridge, South Dakota; Immokalee, Florida; and the coalfields of Welch, West Virginia, attending each other’s interviews and going out together to look for images. “Joe brings to the book a kind of visual power that reporting alone can’t match. All the emotional highs of the book we’ve turned over to Joe, because he can make it visual.”

Elyse Graham is pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at Yale University.


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