September 28, 2013

All war books are anti-war books: Reading Tardi and Verney's "Goddamn This War!"

My library had this on the new release shelf, and my interest in picture books and the great war together made me pick this up.

It tells the story of an unnamed soldier from the start to the end of the war.  Like most of narratives I've read of soldiers at the time, it suffers from the inertia that was a by-product of the war's greater narrative.  Once dug-in, there wasn't much movement.  I think of it as a continent-wide siege.

The art is successful.  The authors use the palate to really set the mood - dropping color off in the trenches to show the gray drabness of that reality.    It looks good too, without being overly gruesome.  There is one particularly haunting picture that makes the cover and is even 'better' in context, the soldier with the medal pinned to his pillow.

Finally, what is particularly important in the book is that the story of the one soldier is generalized, there is a Europe-centric history of the war for the last 30 pages or so.  This year-by-year chronology of the larger events gives more context to the singular experience that the art section of the book conveys.  I enjoyed reading the history almost as much as I did reading the individualized story in the drawn section.