Macedonia (Villard)

macedonia-headerWhat does it take to stop a war? An American college student heads to Macedonia to find out, and American Splendor's Harvey Pekar helps her tell the tale.

 

160 pgs B&W; $17.95

(W: Harvey Pekar and Heather Roberson; A: Ed Piskor)

 

 

Doesn't the idea of a comic book about a college student traveling to a place where-years ago-people didn't fight each other, written by the master of droll adventures sound exciting? Well, it isn't.

 

Macedonia tells the story of Heather Roberson, an idealistic student at U.C. Berkeley. Roberson believes that war can be avoided and that Macedonia is the perfect example. Macedonia came very close to war when the rest of the Balkans were fighting during the 1990s, yet through good diplomacy, war was avoided. Armed conflict never erupted in Macedonia and neither did a media circus, which is Roberson's main complaint. She thinks Macedonia's story could serve as an example of peace to the rest of the world. To find out more, she went there to learn about it. Then, to help tell her story to the masses, she worked with legendary comics writer Harvey Pekar (American Splendor).

 

The cover to Macedonia by Ed Piskor. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Even though the concept is interesting and Pekar is usually a strong writer, this book just falls flat. Roberson's character comes off as condescending, naïve and downright pretentious. Through unrealistic dialogue and impossible conversations, she provides all of the historical background, plot elements, and logical thinking in the book. If dialogue is accurate to the true story, Roberson has boring friends and is rude to them. If it's all been written after-the-fact by Pekar and Roberson, then Pekar has lost his touch and Roberson thinks very highly of herself.

 

Ed Piskor's art is also boring. The drawings do little to serve as mediocre representations of real people with blank faces sitting around talking inside. There are barely any drawings of the environment Roberson is in and there are no panels dedicated to decaying Balkan scenery. Of course, it could be beautiful in Macedonia, I wouldn't know by reading this book.

 

It's a shame this book is such a letdown, because the story of how Macedonia avoided war could use some more attention. This book, however, won't reach the academics because it's a comic and it won't reach the comics fans because it's not a very good comic. Chances are, comics readers who want to learn about the politics of the region through graphic novels will pick up a book by Joe Sacco, who has worked with Pekar before and whose journalistic comics about the Balkans (Safe Area Gorazde, The Fixer) are infinitely better than this.

 

As a comic, Macedonia could be a lot better, but then again, it would probably be most effective as an article or thesis paper. At least then, the right people would be more inclined to read it. | Gabe Bullard

 

Click here to read a 6-page excerpt courtesy of Publisher's Weekly. To learn more, visit MacedoniaTheBook.com.

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