Wartime graphic narratives have a long history. During WWII, Army cartoonist Bill Mauldin created the infantrymen characters Willie and Joe and later won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. More recently, Maximilian Uriarte satirized 20th-century Marine Corps life in the comic strip Terminal Lance; PW’s review of Terminal Lance Omnibus (Little, Brown, out now) said Uriarte is “poised to become a Bill Mauldin for the social media generation.”
Even the ancient military treatise The Art of War has received the comics treatment—recently, in Kelly Roman and Michael DeWeese’s 2012 graphic novel published by HarperCollins, and in new and forthcoming books from Canterbury Classics and Princeton University Press.
“Comics are a great medium for immersing you in these complicated, difficult subjects,” says Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics’ associate publisher. “There’s an educational value in putting a comic book in front of someone who might not otherwise engage.”
Proof of concept: the venerable Naval Institute Press is launching a graphic novel imprint, Dead Reckoning. The four titles on fall’s launch list include The ’Stan (Sept.), which PW’s review called a “realistic view of an ongoing conflict, rendered in a casual yet powerful voice.”
Below, a look at some forthcoming titles that tell real-life and fictional stories drawn from the front lines and the home front.
All Quiet on the Western Front
Wayne Vansant (Dead Reckoning, June 2019)
The estate of Erich Maria Remarque sanctioned this adaptation of the author’s 1928 novel of the same name, a tale of WWI trench warfare retold here by cartoonist Vansant (Knights of the Skull), a Vietnam veteran.
Ari Folman and David Polonsky (Pantheon, Oct.)
Folman and Polonsky, who collaborated on the 2008 animated war documentary Waltz with Bashir and subsequent graphic novel, reunite for this “spirited graphic adaptation,” PW’s starred review said. “Anne, drawn with large dark eyes, blooms like the hardiest, loveliest weed—a moody teenager whose wit, self-awareness, and rich fantasy life take center stage.” Authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation.
The Antifa Comic Book: 100 Years of Fascism and Antifa Movements Around the World
Gord Hill (Arsenal Pulp, Sept.)
Hill (The 500 Years of Resistance) traces the history of modern fascism and concurrent antifa movements from post–World War I Europe to the contemporary U.S.
The Art of War: An Illustrated Edition
Sun Tzu and Pete Katz (Canterbury Classics, Nov.)
A teacher lectures a student on Tzu’s philosophy, punctuated by detailed combat scenes, all rendered in full-color art.
The Art of War: A Graphic Adaptation
Sunzi and C.C. Tsai, trans. from the Chinese by Brian Bruya (Princeton Univ., out now)
Tsai, known for his lively takes on Chinese classics, uses his signature cartoony style to convey military stratagems.
(Drawn Quarterly, Sept.)
This omnibus collects three volumes of Lutes’s Weimar Republic stories, which observe Berlin and its denizens in the aftermath of World War I and as Hitler comes to power: Book One: City of Stones (2000), Book Two: City of Smoke (2008), and Book Three: City of Light (publishing concurrently).
Olivier Kugler (Penn State Univ., Sept.)
Comics journalist Kugler traveled with Doctors Without Borders, interviewing Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan; the Greek island of Kos; Calais, France; and elsewhere. PW’s review called the resulting book “a kaleidoscopic odyssey for the era of displaced persons and disintegrating nations” and “a fine example of humanistic journalism.”
I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB
Jacques Tardi, trans. from the French by Jenna Allen (Fantagraphics, July)
The acclaimed French cartoonist (Goddamn This War!), who was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2016, adapts the memoirs of his father, a tank commander and POW in WWII, in graphic nonfiction account that PW’s starred review called “uncompromising in its portrayal of war yet relatable as a story of a son trying to understand his father.”
Mattéo, Book One: 1914–1915
Jean-Pierre Gibrat, trans. from the French by Diana Schutz
The Eisner-nominated creator of 2017’s Flight of the Raven offers the first title in a graphic novel trilogy that will travel through major world conflicts. In the opening volume, Mattéo, a young Spanish pacifist in France, finds himself conflicted at the dawn of WWI.
Stalingrad: Letters from the Volga
Antonio Gil and Daniel Ortega, trans. from the Spanish by Jeff Whitman (Dead Reckoning, May 2019)
The first European import from the Naval Institute Press comics imprint gives a soldier-on-the-ground view of WWII’s Battle of Stalingrad over months of brutal urban combat.
Twists of Fate
Paco Roca, trans. from the Spanish by Erica Mena (Fantagraphics, Sept.)
Roca, a 2017 Eisner nominee for Wrinkles, presents WWII from the perspective of composite character Miguel Ruiz, a member of “La Nueve” (“The Nine”). The company, composed mainly of Spanish antifascists, fought across Europe and Africa.