Zerocalcare is an Italian cartoonist whose strips, especially in the form of illustrated books, have surged to an iconic level in the last decade. His drawing is excellent, but it is with his writing that, I think, he conquered fame. His stories are fun to read and yet profound and vibrant, all at the same time. Also, he often touches on themes nobody else covers, at least not in the comics world. It was the case with Kobane Calling: Greetings from Northern Syria, his graphic reportage from Syrian Kurdistan and the Syria-Turkey border. The author visited the area with other volunteers to support the Kurdish resistance. I think Kobane Calling did a lot in raising awareness of the Kurdish situation, at least here in Italy (an English edition was published too.)
No Sleep Till Shengal recounts the author’s return to Iraq, this time to visit the Yazidi community of Shengal and document their living conditions and struggle as they are threatened by international tensions and protected by Kurdish militias. No Sleep Till Shengal is a good book. Like his predecessor, it is humorous yet tense and touching. I felt like something was amiss in this work, though, and I am not exactly sure what. There are a couple of repetitive passages, perhaps a sign that the author needed to fill in the blanks, having less fresh content at hand. Maybe there’s a slight Deja Vu sensation induced by the previous work; I don’t know. No Sleep is a solid second work on an already visited theme. My affection for Zerocalcare is intact, but I’d pick Kobane Calling over No Sleep, especially for a first reading of this author.