By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Why does someone become a fixer?
They’re often people who enjoy talking to foreigners and want to improve their English, but mostly it’s money that makes them do it. When I was in Bosnia a fixer could make $150 a day, which was more than most people there were seeing in a year.
Do you consider Neven a sympathetic figure?
It’s hard to describe him with a single adjective because he’s complicated. I didn’t know anyone in Sarajevo on my first visit, and Neven was the first person I spoke to. In his way he took me under his wing, and I appreciated that because he was a tough guy and I was a little afraid when I was there. It was good to be around this guy because it felt like his street credibility was rubbing off on me on some level. It wasn’t until later that I learned he didn’t have street credibility with everyone. ‰
Sarajevo didn’t have an army, so when it came under attack it needed people like Neven to step into the breach. He admitted to me that he’d been a sniper, but without people like Neven, Sarajevo probably would’ve fallen, and who knows what the consequences of that would’ve been. Neven considered it a tragedy that the paramilitary groups that defended Sarajevo were crushed, but they definitely had to be stopped. Ultimately, Neven was someone who was able to thrive for a time in a very chaotic circumstance, and then it turned against him and he was back to being caught up in it.
Who is responsible for intervening when genocide is being committed? As the strongest military power in the world, is that America’s responsibility?
I don’t know if you can make a blanket statement like that because every case has to be judged individually. I don’t think America is obliged to be the policeman of the world. However, you could certainly make the case that situations on the scale of what occurred in Rwanda must be addressed, and truth be told, America is the country with the equipment and manpower to do these sorts of things.
Are there other areas of the world that are of particular interest to you?
Almost any place can interest me, but I have to chain myself to a desk and work right now. I’d be interested in going to Iraq, but I’d have to be sent there because I couldn’t finance a trip like that on my own, and I’m not sure who to approach. It’s unlikely I’d approach an American paper because they end up hammering you about “their style” and things that seem trivial to me, like how to abbreviate lieutenant colonel.
Do you go into these projects prepared to lose your life?
No. Obviously, this work is risky on some level, and I know that something can happen, but I try to be very careful. I’m not a war photographer running into streets taking pictures of rolling tanks.
Does making this work depress you?
Occasionally. When you see a bombing in a café in Tel Aviv, houses being demolished and people getting killed by tank shells, it’s depressing as hell. But I channel those feelings into a sense of purpose — I’ll think “Okay, I’ll sit at my drawing table and start working, and three years from now there’ll be a book coming out about this.” I’d get more depressed if I wasn’t doing this work.
Having made a firsthand study of war, what conclusions have you drawn about human nature?
You see extremes of humanity in places like Palestine and Bosnia — you see enormously good people who’ll give you the shirt off their back despite the fact that they have nothing, and you see incredible cruelty. Mostly what you see is innocent people being crushed beneath the wheels of history.
FromThe Fixer (Drawn & Quarterly Publications).