This is something pretty unique in the world of comics or autobiography and something very special indeed. Emmanuel Guibert illustrates the memoirs of a regular American soldier, Alan Cope, recounting in his own words his experiences during the Second World War while shipped off to Europe, where he would eventually settle down to live. It's very much the perspective of an ordinary soldier, just doing his duty, but in the process learning a lot about himself. The graphic autobiography continues after the war, the friendships he makes and the friends he loses on the way extending a learning experience across a whole lifetime.
The overall impact of this reflection and relating of an ordinary life becomes something extraordinary, Guibert's expressive and beautiful artwork, drawn from references and from imagination, bringing it all together and making it come alive. FirstSecond deserve credit for making great work like this available to English readers. Published in full across over 300 pages of high quality paper in this outstanding edition, reproducing photographs and letters, and costing next-to-nothing this really deserves to be read by more people. I can't imagine anyone reading this wondrous, heartbreaking and thought-provoking book and not being deeply moved.
This is the story of one man's war. It is not the story of WWII, but the story of one man (Alan Cope) and his personal day to day life as he lived through those years in France. Alan didn't fight in any famous battles or according to himself, show any acts of bravery. His war could be called mundane, but no one can go through fighting and surviving a world war without having tales to tell and these are Alan's tales in his own words illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert. The book was good and I enjoyed my time with it. There are a few things that made it not a five-star read for me. It drags a bit, being overly long. Guibert doesn't do as much of his photograph/illustration mixture artwork for a good portion of the book, which I can understand because of the lack of photos taken during the actual combat years, but still I felt their absence. Finally, I simply didn't like Alan. I had a small inking after reading the story of his childhood that as an adult he might rub me the wrong way, and this book certainly confirmed that. I didn't like his worldview, outlook, or opinions. So that does take away from the enjoyment of reading the minutia of his life. But all told I did like this quiet, personal look at one man's war.
I recently borrowed this book from my local library and, after reading it, am already considering when I will buy further copies, both for myself to read again and to share this interesting and moving work with my friends.
A biography of G.I. Alan Cope's life, from when he enlists to fight in the Second World War onwards, the work is at turns both interesting and deeply moving. This is not a war story full of action and combat, rather the war sections of the graphic novel focus on one man's experience of the emotions of war and his integration into the military machine. The non-war sections are about friendship, the chance encounters of life and attempting to grasp the true meaning of things.
In terms of artwork, while I must admit that my understanding of art is not overly sophisticated, in my humble opinion there are many images in this work which could stand alone and be impressive- the level of artwork is among the best I have seen in graphic novels.
The prologue by the artist himself, which explains how he came to write the story of Alan Cope, is also very interesting. It gives the novel context and makes you appreciate the work which went into it.
Really, a wonderful work which I look forward to re-reading and sharing with those dear to me.
Alan Cope's War and Post War life is recounted in an illustrated conversations he had with the Artist - From being called up to being demobilized in Europe. He then works as a civilian employee of the US Army in Germany, This post war period is fascinating - what did happen when the shooting stops? very few first hand accounts spring to mind the best being "Where have all the Bullets Gone?" by Spike Milligan.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There was plenty of reading in it which was great as so many graphic novels are not long enough for me! It was one man's story of his experience of the war which was so interesting from the human point of view. It was easy to relate to and understand and I found it fascinating. He was a really likeable character and I loved all the smaller details of life. A little like reading someone's diary - I would thoroughly recommend it. Excellent.