Comparison Essay

Looking back at two previous graphic novels that we have covered so far, it is evident that these author wants to share their personal view of the country they have been staying. These two authors visited two very different countries and shared their objective and opinions about them, and it allowed us, readers, to understand and see why they have come to their conclusion for each event in their graphic novels. This essay will try to compare the drawing style of the two different graphic novels, two different styles from two different people from varying walks of life that are united in a desire to express their bizarre experience as a foreigner in a country.


Starting with the art style, we can tell that there is a vast difference between two people’s drawing in their graphic novel. We can immediately tell that Joe Sacco tends to be more cartoony and dramatic. Many of the important events seem to be packed with a background full of detail, facial emotions, and text boxes with overflowing amount of words. For me, it was this exaggeration of text and drawing that made Palestine stood out to me in both good and bad way. This “overflowing” style allowed me to understand each situation with ease with speed. The bursting amount of text has many inputs of detail in each event, and the amplified drawing allowed me to understand visually efficiently; however, I found this art style to be sometime too intrusive. It felt more of a word than the picture. It felt unbalanced towards me. Pyongyang on the other hand seemed to take more minimalistic approach. Most of the backgrounds are empty, white space unless it’s an eventful page. Many of the character designs seemed to be drawing straight from newspaper comic strips. I rather enjoyed Pyongyang more in terms of art style since I was able to focus on the story and drawing at the same time since it felt more balanced. There were enough details in the drawing for what is to be happening and general flow of a story. Most of the important event had famous location or statues located in Pyongyang. Basically, it was a textbook graphic novel style for me. For art style, one had details that were over the comfort limit, while other was minimalistic with enough information.


Now it is hard to compare the way each author wanted to express their opinion about the country they visited because their occupation was different and the country’s law, culture, and politics are completely unlike since one is a full-fledged communist country while another one is a country with controversial origin. Their job is also different since one is a full-time animator, and other is a journalist. From Palestine, we get to see more of a press style approach for storytelling. He was able to do so since press weren’t oppressed as in North Korea. Joe Sacco goes around and interviews a variety of people about local conflict and political events. He even sometimes can be part of a conflict. However, it was hard for me to relate with his opinion since I had no previous knowledge in events occurred in Palestine. Guy Delisle, however, made his comic on a very isolated country. Most of the human interactions came from other foreigners or native animators or travel guides. The interaction between the author and native guides were interesting since we see an interaction between two different countrymen. Although his storyline was decent, most of the criticism towards the country came from his memory, while most of the pros were photographed or altered by the communist regime of North Korea. This bothered me the most while reading the graphic novel since as a native South Korean, it was obvious that North Korean government wanted to manipulate any visitor in their land to view only positive images. I always wanted a fair third-person view of North Korea since early South Korean education made me have a negative view towards the regime. It felt most frustrated when I was reading the part where the film taken without permission was deleted. Frustrations aside, both authors were able to address their own opinions differently.

These two graphic novels were made in the different country, style, and by different author, but they both accomplish the job of telling the readers the experience of living in their own visited country. The art style varied, but that was to be expected since no one draws the same way. However, their style gave each of them pros and cons in graphic novels.