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It Was the War of the Trenches

On sale date: April 20, 2010

Tardi's World War I masterpiece finally in English!

World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Jacques Tardi's. (His very first—rejected—comics 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 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. 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 Tardi's 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 Tardi's mature style. It is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardi's 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.


"Starred Review. While the visuals, which draw upon battlefield photographs, are thoroughly convincing, the soldiers' harrowing experiences, fictionalized by Tardi, register as even more powerfully authentic. 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, created over the course of a decade, from 1982 to 1993, is a cri de coeur that stands out even amid Tardi's impressive body of work." — Booklist

"Tardi's tales from World War I capture the morbid drudgery that is trench warfare and finds pockets of profundity that speak to the nature of war and man. His stark, inky forms perfectly convey the blackened skies, scorched landscape, and gritty reality faced by thousands of soldiers." — Matt White - Publishers Weekly

"Tardi's aesthetic is tailor made for this kind of violence, and his inky impressionism carries chilling tactility without peer. There are, simply put, few people who can render bodies with as much physical weight as the deceptively-cartoonish Tardi, and there are few stories worthy of applying that skill as this one." — Shea Hennum - Paste

"Ink-soaked and gory, Tardi's detailed renderings drive home the grotesquery of the war and the ordeal of the young men fighting in it. ...It Was the War of the Trenches creates an aura of loss, regret and terror." — Michael C. Lorah - Newsarama

"This extraordinary collection of World War I tales offers perhaps the finest work from the lauded Tardi. ... Visceral, powerful, and effective, the flawless It Was The War of the Trenches blazes a new standard for the war comic." — Rick Klaw - The SF Site: Nexus Graphica


Black and white
8.4" × 10.8"