Few people alive today are old enough to remember World War I, and as it recedes into the past, the "war to end all wars" becomes more abstract. But French cartoonist Jacques Tardi's graphic novel, It Was The War of the Trenches (Published by Fantagraphics and translated into English by Fanta's own Kim Thompson), brings the Great War to life in all its mud- and blood-soaked misery.
Without a trace of sentimentality, Tardi's richly detailed and grimly rendered vignettes depict the horror, illness, cruel manipulations, and stupidity of this giant black spot in human history. Tardi wisely avoids the politics and major developments of World War I, choosing to instead present daily life in the freezing, flooded, rat filled trenches, where shell-shocked soldiers waited for their commanding officers to send them on futile suicide missions. Maus creator Art Spiegelman called It Was The War of the Trenches "an essential classic." You can download a 10-page preview of this monumental book here.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.