Shooting War: graphic novel about blogger embedded in Baghdad

Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman's Shooting War is one of the strongest graphic novels I've read in years, a tough anti-war comic that provides trenchant, spot-on commentary about the relationship of the news-media to all sides of modern war.

Jimmy Burns is a left-wing, anti-corporate vlogger living in gentrified Williamsburg, Brooklyn who becomes famous when the Starbucks underneath his apartment is blown up by terrorists just as he's shooting a live video-stream of himself decrying the incursion of Seattle's Green Menace. When Fox News (well, "Global News Network," but it's clear who that's supposed to be) puts him on the air to talk about it, he lights into the bubblehead newscaster with a screed about the venality of cable news. This moves Rupert Murdoch (not actually Rupert, but another right-wing Australian media tycoon) to offer him a job as the network's new Baghdad correspondent. One page later, and Jimmy is in Iraq, covering the war and riding the danger rush.

Jimmy's ratings are buoyed by his capture by a media-savvy terrorist who is bent on becoming supreme commander of the jihad, and is prepared to use Jimmy's camera as a conduit for attaining his goal. As the story unfolds, Jimmy is caught between his unscrupulous employers, the bloodthirsty jihadis, battle-maddened US forces, cynical journalists, and his own self-doubt, with only his producer (a Sorbonne-educated Iraqi woman whose communist parents were hunted by Saddam) and Dan Rather (!) for guidance.

The comic embodies the best traits of war-comics — gripping, fast-moving action — with savvy commentary, and the artwork matches it with a blend of beautiful illustration collaged against news-photos and screen-grabs.

Shooting War started off as an online project and you can still follow the story there, but the book is a nicely produced lump of atoms and well worth the price.

Shooting War