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
"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." — 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
"An utterly convincing collection of stories, and arguably one Tardi has never bettered." — Slings & Arrows