Jacques Tardi is responsible for the two acknowledged graphic novel masterpieces about World War I: It Was the War of the Trenches and Goddamn This War! To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI in 2014, Fantagraphics is proud to release a two-volume boxed set collecting these two perennial classics. The first book, It Was the War of the Trenches, focuses on the day to day of the grunts in the trenches, bringing that existence alive as no one has before or since with some of his most stunning artwork. His second WWI masterwork, Goddamn This War!, is told with a sustained sense of outrage, pitch-black gallows humor, and impeccably scrupulous historical exactitude, in masterful full color.
More detailed descriptions of each book follow. For more previews of each book (or to order them individually), click the titles below.
Created 15 years after the completion of his Eisner Award-winning World War I masterwork It Was the War of the Trenches, Tardi's Goddamn This War! is no mere sequel or extension, but a brand new, wholly individual graphic novel that serves as a companion piece to Trenches but can be read entirely on its own.
Vastly different sequentially (eschewing Trenches' splintered narrative, Goddamn is split into six chronological chapters, one for each year of the war), graphically (Tardi deploys his more recent pen-ink-and-watercolor technique, with the bold colors of the early chapters fading into a grimy near-monochrome in the later ones as the war drags on), and narratively (all of Goddamn is told, with insight, dark wit and despair, as a first-person reminiscence/narration by an unnamed soldier), Goddamn This War! shares with Trenches its sustained sense of outrage, pitch-black gallows humor, and impeccably scrupulous historical exactitude.
In fact, Goddamn This War! includes an extensive year-by-year historical text section written by Tardi's frequent World War I research helpmate, the historian and collector Jean-Pierre Verney, including dozens of stunning rare photographs and visual documents from his personal collection.
2011 Eisner Award Winner: Best Reality-Based Work and Best U.S. Edition of International Material
2011 Harvey Award Nominee: Best American Edition of Foreign Material
One of Booklist's Top 10 Adult Graphic Novels for 2010
One of Library Journal's Best Graphic Novels 2010
World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Jacques Tardis. (His very firstrejectedcomics story dealt with the subject, as does his most recent work, the two-volume Putain de Guerre.) But It Was the War of the trenches is Tardis defining, masterful statement on the subject, a graphic novel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Erich Maria Remarques All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingways A Farewell to Arms.
Tardi is not interested in the national politics, the strategies, or the battles. Like Remarque, he focuses on the day to day of the grunts in the trenches, and, with icy, controlled fury and disgust, with sardonic yet deeply sympathetic narration, he brings that existence alive as no one has before or since. Yet he also delves deeply into the underlying causes of the war, the madness, the cynical political exploitation of patriotism. And in a final, heartbreaking coda, Tardi grimly itemizes the ghastly human cost of the war, and lays out the future 20th century conflicts, all of which seem to spring from this global burst of insanity.
Trenches features some of Tardis most stunning artwork. Rendered in an inhabitually lush illustrative style, inspired both by abundant photographic documentation and classic American war comics, augmented by a sophisticated, gorgeous use of Craftint tones, Trenches is somehow simultaneously atypical and a perfect encapsulation of Tardis mature style. It is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardis oeuvre.
It Was the War of the Trenches has been an object of fascination for North American publishers: RAW published a chapter in the early 1980s, and Drawn and Quarterly magazine serialized a few more in the 1990s. But only a small fraction of Trenches has ever been made available to the English speaking public (in now out of print publications); the Fantagraphics edition, the third in an ongoing collection of the works of this great master, finally remedies this situation.