Comic Solutions

Book Review: Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics

20696439Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics
Edited by Chris Duffy
First Second
July 2014

World War I. The Great War. Death and destruction on the largest scale ever seen. And yet…a movement began with the soldiers in the trenches, writers, poets, artists, and thinkers all. They’ve become known as The Trench Poets, writing about the war and their experiences, not as a romantic or noble enterprise, but as what they really saw and felt. The bloodshed of war, the senseless violence, the death. All things that people knew, but so often romanticized prior to this, but these poets chose to tell reality. Above the Dreamless Dead brings some of these works back to life to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I, and to honor the dead.

Chris Duffy once again brings his editing prowess to bear, choosing twenty of the most moving poems and twenty talented artists to merge poem and comics into something new. Working in black and white, the artists have created illustrations and comics to capture the essence of the poem and show some of the horrors that the soldiers experienced, many things for the very first time. The artists range from Steve Bissette to Eddie Campbell to kevin Huizenga and more. Each artists brings their own style to the poem they’re working on which creates a wide variety and interpretation of the works.

Given that any anthology a reader’s impression and liking of the works is going to vary by taste, I’m not going to review the art. Instead I’ll say look take a look through the book, find the illustrations or comics that cause your heart to pause a beat, without ever reading the words. Stop at those. Read them and learn what the Trench Poets wanted to share. Take in the art that’s been created to help you feel what the Trench Poets felt. Take in the words and the art, even if just for a few seconds. And be moved.

This is a book that everyone should pick up. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a fan of history, or poetry, or war…this is a book that everyone should at least read one poem and comic from. To better understand a part of our history. And to maybe take something into the future. I give the book five out of five stars.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second

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