Car­toon­ist caught the hor­rors of war... then it took his life

The Herald - - ARMISTICE: 100 YEARS -

The num­ber of horse horses that died in the First World War. They were used to trans­port am­mu­ni­tion and sup­plies to the front and many died, not only from the hor­rors of shell­fire, but also in ter­ri­ble weather and ap­palling con­di­tions. The num­ber of let­ters that were de­liv­ered to the sol­diers on the West­ern front ev­ery week. By the end of the war, two bil­lion let­ters and 114 mil­lion parcels had been re­ceived. The num­ber of sol­diers Ger­man mo­bilised dur­ing the war, fight­ing on both the eastern and west­ern fronts. It is be­lieved that 1,773,700 were killed, and 4,216,058 wounded. of ret­ri­bu­tion and re­crim­i­na­tion for Ger­many.

There is pa­tri­o­tism in the work, but it does not glo­rify war.

“Gilk­i­son has a very par­tic­u­lar way of evok­ing emo­tions,” ex­plains Mr Grove. “The di­ag­o­nal com­po­si­tion of the dead Ger­man sol­dier in

The Rea­son Why makes us fo­cus on the agony of the face. It is an im­age that is 50 years ahead of its time and re­minds me of posters cre­ated dur­ing the Viet­nam War. He has a way of mak­ing us look at some­thing and just shiver - he touched hearts and minds.”

The qual­ity of the draw­ing, mean­while, says Mr Grove, is “phe­nom­e­nal”.

“Gilk­i­son’s fine lines com­pare with the great etch­ers of the 17th cen­tury,” he adds. “The only real dif­fer­ence is that he was work­ing in the 20th cen­tury news­pa­per in­dus­try.”

In the four years since un­cle Archie’s ta­lent was re­dis­cov­ered, his work has been in­cluded in books, com­mem­o­ra­tions and ex­hi­bi­tions, in­clud­ing a ma­jor one at the Hun­te­rian Art Gallery in Glas­gow ex­plor­ing the his­tory of comics and car­toons where he was dis­played along­side gi­ants such as Rem­brandt, Pi­casso, Warhol and

Roy Licht­en­stein.

See­ing him gain such recog­ni­tion has been truly won­der­ful, es­pe­cially when I think of my grand­mother, who would have loved to have seen her un­cle’s work ex­hib­ited. The fact that the car­toons now have a per­ma­nent home at Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity, where they can be ac­cessed and used as a re­source for ever more, also fills me with pride.

I feel a deep sense of loss, too, how­ever. At the peak of his pow­ers as an artist in 1916, as the death toll mounted at the Somme – a bat­tle that would even­tu­ally kill 420,000 British sol­diers and al­most 500,000 Ger­mans

„ War Car­toons book by Archie Gilk­i­son owned by his great-niece,

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