Before Joe Sacco crafted his two major works of "cartoon journalism," Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde, he created a number of shorter pieces, ranging from one-page gags to 30-page "graphic novelettes." This massive book finally collects the entirety of Sacco's earlier journalistic and autobiographical work, plus a sizable serving of his satirical strips, many of them never before collected in book form. The centerpieces in Notes from a Defeatist are a triptych of war stories: "When Good Bombs Happen to Bad People," a history of aerial bombing that specifically targets civilian populations; "More Women, More Children, More Quickly," in which Sacco relates his mother's harrowing experiences during World War II in Malta; and, most personally (and closest to Sacco's later work), "How I Loved the War," Sacco's impassioned but sardonic reflection on the Gulf war, the surrounding propaganda and media circus, and his own ambivalent feelings as both a spectator and commentator. The book derives its title from this sequence, which has acquired a painful new relevance in the past half-year. Notes from a Defeatist also includes a roadie's-eye view of an American punk band's eventful European tour, a reminiscence of an awful season spent in his native Malta, Sacco's hilarious recollections of his career as a librarian, a selection of satirical strips about slackers, artists, and American salarymen, and much more.
"Sacco is able to convey the cynicism and black humor that those surrounded with death and mayhem use to fend off misery. His drawings are stark, realistic visions of the gray, depressing world of a land mangled by artillery shells and deformed by poverty." The New York Times
"The ace [Sacco] holds is a fine sense of incongruity — something he uses to great effect in the Gulf War ruminations from [Notes from a Defeatist]... Sacco's a skillful, subtle storyteller." – Utne Reader
"Call Joe Sacco the moral draughtsman... we're in his debt." – Christopher Hitchens