In her new book Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form (Harvard UP, 2016), Hillary Chute analyses the documentary power in the comics-form sometimes known as "graphic novels." Chute is particularly interested in Art Spiegelman's Maus, Keiji Nakazawa's I Saw It, and Joe Sacco's series Palestine, but she also introduces us to the long history of hand-drawn documentation of war-time trauma dating to Goya and Callot.
Chute treats comics as a serious literary form that is especially efficacious for representing the act of witness-to-war and those who witness. It is through the power of graphic illustration combined with the written word--the comics-form--that the otherwise unspeakable atrocities of modern war can be conveyed. The book also serves as a primer to the language of comics--words like "gutter" and "tier"--and the craft of decoding comics as practiced by scholars such as Chute.
In this interview Chute responded to questions about her path into comics as an academic pursuit, her thoughts on the newest trends in documentary comics, and her views from the college classroom on the pedagogy of comics.
Jerry Lembcke can be reached at email@example.com, Ellis Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.