In Joe Kubert’s Fax from Sarajevo, the chapter ‘The Rape Camp’ deals with the mass rape of women by Serb troops during the Bosnian War. Kubert’s rape narrative displays a tension between presence and absence that is analysed on different (extra)textual levels. Formally, the two incentives interact when Kubert inscribes the sexual violence on the page but acknowledges its visual limitations by constructing it as an act that can be read from the faces of the people involved and through the use of language. On a narrative level, the chapter’s disconnect from the rest of the story marginalises its content and does not explore the long-lasting effects of rape, though Kubert briefly refers to genocidal rape at other points in the graphic novel. Furthermore, the tension between presence and absence in Kubert’s rape narrative is informed by a cultural backdrop of excessive images of sexual violence. The article argues that this oscillation between inscription and elision in Fax from Sarajevo works productively, as it demonstrates a reflexive awareness of the risks of visualising rape.

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Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

in 't Veld, L. (2018). Reading presence and absence in Fax from Sarajevo’s rape narrative. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 1–15. doi:10.1080/21504857.2018.1462222