Great Graphic Novels: Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope

GreatgraphicnovelsLast month I asked my friends to write about books they loved (you can read all the essays here). This month, I invited them to write about their favorite graphic novels, and they selected some excellent titles. I hope you enjoy them! (Read all the Great Graphic Novel essays here.) — Mark

Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope, by Emmanuel Guibert

NewImageAs far as World War II stories go, Cope’s story is far from spectacular. Wonderfully so.

Expect none of the heroics or ego associated with traditional combat tales. Instead, welcome a sit down chat with a friend who will, frankly and intimately, carry you along through a soldier's attempt to find meaningful friendships and rich experience while navigating a tedious, banal, and rootless military career.

I know that may sound dreadful, but it is not.

Despite the limitless digital access that I have to folks, ideas and inspiration I find myself yearning for the same things Cope longed for 60+ years ago — little bits of beauty and a good friend or two to share them with. This book is both beautiful and friendly. After a day of being hit from a million directions for hours on end with stimulus, it is soothing to retire into a world where aside from the rare letter, a man lives in simple engagement with his immediate and tactile environment and with his thoughts.

The translation from French is highly conversational and Guibert’s technique of painting the page with water and allowing ink to bleed through the wet fibers result in illustrations that are loose yet elegant, cloudy and clear at the same time. Like memory.

Here’s a video of Guibert crafting a portrait of Alan Cope.

[Cory also reviewed this in 2008! — Mark]

Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope