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! 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 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
World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Tardi's. But It Was the War of the trenches is Tardi's defining, masterful statement on the subject, a graphic novel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.
Tardi is not interested in the national politics, the strategies, or the battles. 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 Tardi's most stunning artwork. Rendered in a 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 a perfect encapsulation of Tardi's mature style and is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardi's oeuvre.
"The war to end all wars has become a magisterial comic book to end all comic books. I seldom give blurbs, but this book is an essential classic. Among all of Tardi's towering achievements as a comics artist, nothing looms larger than this devastating crater of a work. It's a compulsively readable wail of Existential despair, a kaleidoscope of war's dehumanizing brutality and of Everyman's suffering, as well as a deadpan masterpiece of the darkest black humor. The richly composed and obsessively researched drawings — perfectly poised between cartoon and illustration — march to the relentless beats of Tardi's three horizontal panels per page to dig a hole deep inside your brain. This is one Hell of a book." — Art Spiegelman
"Tardi's depiction of the First World War is so impassioned and visceral that it can be compared to the work of the artists who actually served in the trenches." — Joe Sacco
"Tardis depiction of the First World War is so impassioned and visceral that it can be compared to the work of the artists who actually served in the trenches." — Joe Sacco
"The potency of the soldiers' tragic stories is enhanced by the elegance of Tardi's lucid drawing and keen compositions that are accentuated by the use of three horizontal panels per page throughout. This masterful condemnation of the cruelty and stupidity of war is a cri de coeur that stands out even amid Tardi's impressive body of work." — Gordon Flagg, Booklist Starred Review
"French master Tardi gives an infantry-level view of World War I's meat-grinder carnage in grim vignettes that primarily keep tight, telling focus on the stories of individual soldiers. ... It Was the War of the Trenches deserves a place on the top shelf of graphic lit." — St. Louis Post-Dispatch