Sunday, March 02, 2008

Shooting War Revisited

Remember when I reviewed comics about two months ago? I actually only did that because I wanted to review Persepolis, but in the process I started finding out about more interesting comics and reviewing them seemed more fun. After I reviewed both Shooting War and Pride of Baghdad, I wrote to both creators, baiting the first for a discussion, and asking for a signed copy from the other. Sure enough, soon I was engaged in a lengthy debate with Shooting War's writer Anthony Lappe, who thought I was being unfair to his work ; after two days of back-and-forth e-mailing I concluded by saying that I conceded to some of his objections but will revise my review only after reading the full published work so as to give my final say on the matter. He said that he'd contact his London publisher who will mail me a copy, I once had stuff sent to me by James Langley (who sent me his Iraq in Fragments/Sari's Mother free of charge, and who was sitting in both this year and last year Academy Awards ceremony) and Vice Magazine and it took only two days, so I assumed the same. after a week with nothing arriving I gave up and decided to move on to other material, thinking that this'd be the last of it.

Apparently not, about a week ago, polite Anthony commented a bit less politely on the review, I reminded him of my conditions, but I think he was still a bit glum about it, at first, I didn't understand his sudden interest after a month of absence, but I think it has to do with the fact that typing "Shooting War Review" in Google gives my page as the 1st Result.
Anyway, even though he is perhaps correct about minor details, such as his depiction of Green Zone employees as South Asian and Indians (with turbans, which I assumed it sits with the other barrage of inaccuracies about Iraqis he had filled the book with) which he claims are the norm regarding employees serving there (I asked Neurotic Wife about this but she didn't reply), my review is still an accurate representation of my opinion regarding the book: that the only thing powerful about it is that it misguides its readers into believing that this is a narrative that reflects reality, as is the case in most US media, this book gets America's side right and Iraq's side (which is supposed to matter most) horribly wrong, it's anything but reality, I suspect Anthony himself knows that it's only appeal is its grainy toughness, but after I flooded him with criticisms about his flimsy plot, he retorted by saying it's a fictional work not inspired not really inspired by facts ; if that's so, then it's a very boring, lackluster one without anything you haven't seen before.
What Lappe should've done is stay out of stuff he doesn't care to understand and focus on universal facts, like Brian K Vaughan did with Pride of Baghdad, I believe this book is timeless ; he promised he'd send me it but nothing arrived as well, so I went and bought it from, yes, it's so cool that it prompted a 23-year-old Middle Easterner whose software, books, movies and games are entirely pirated to go out and buy it legally.
Here it is proudly sitting on my desk. I also replaced the picture in my previous post with a better quality one.


nadia n said...

I haven't read it so I can't speak about what's going on here, but a ton of outsourcing was done for South Asian labour. Alot of the workers were lied to by their contractors about where they were being sent too, it's pretty horrific.

nadia n said...

Anyways, regardless of whether that guy is a Shiite or not I don't know what's going on there, the author may have a point. I think you're overestimating how seriously people will take the comic as any kind of a realistic account. We have all these movies like Syriana, etc etc floating around and people take them as entertainment, not reality, it's not like when people go see Michael Moore movies expecting to be told what to think.

Anyways I saw you picked up the Hana Batatu phonebook. Good stuff!

nadia n said...

Also(sorry triple post) if you want to see journalistic integrity in comics, you really need to get into Joe Sacco's stuff. "Safe Area Gorazde" has your name written all over it.

olivebranch said...

nice metamorphosis Kiddo. will be interested in what comes to "light" from your new look.

lelly said...

I really like Pride of Baghdad, I think the graphics are great and the story touching but not overly sentimental or dramatic.

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