Several new titles are being released to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War. Anthology To End All
Wars, from publisher Soaring Penguin, features more than 50 contributors from 13 different countries. Established talents such as Kate Charlesworth and the Pleece Brothers rub shoulders with less well-known creators such as Joe Gordon, Andy Luke, Matt Soffe and Selina Lock. The stories cover a range of topics, including shellshock, the subject of Jonathan Clode’s The Coward’s War.
“I was interested in learning about the logic that led the British Expeditionary Force to use capital punishment as a deterrent as much as a punishment,” says Clode.
“Perhaps the most fascinating thing about it all is that shellshock – or post-traumatic stress disorder, as we now understand it – wasn’t a genuine concern until well into the war. While the ignorance of the time doesn’t justify the actions of those who signed the death warrants, it’s easier to understand than the modern viewpoint that, in some quarters, still tags these men as cowards and traitors.”
White Death, a graphic novel by Robbie Morrison ( The Authority, Nikolai Dante) and Charlie Adlard ( The Walking Dead) first came out in 1998 and is being republished in August. It details trench warfare in the Trentino, Dolomite and Caporetto mountains on the Italian/Austro-Hungarian border. Here, avalanches were used as weapons of war, both sides deliberately triggering snow slides with their artillery.
Finally, mention must be made of the First World War comics of French cartoonist Jacques Tardi. It Was The War Of The Trenches and Goddamn This War! are both available in English from Fantagraphics.