In addition to Dunkirk, this collection also contains shorter vignettes of other wartime experiences which give readers brief glimpses into the nature and realities of war. The variety shows the scope of Glanzman’s storytelling and artistic prowess. It also gives readers a wider look into history. I think that this work will be entertaining for history buffs, educational for students, and sobering for those who typically read fantasy. These pages show real life poured onto paper through the experiences of a vet.
Dunkirk opens in France amidst a battle against the Germans who are eager to either push the British off the continent or destroy them in the process. In response, the British-organized Operation Dynamo which sought to evacuate the British soldiers from France in order to fight another day. Hitler halted the attack on Dunkirk which proved to be greatly beneficial for the retreating British and French soldiers. There were hundreds of thousands of men on the beach, waiting to be evacuated. The delay gave them valuable time, allowing for the rescue of hundreds of thousands of troops. Dunkirk is organized into three parts, which also helps readers feel the passage of precious time.
The colors are rugged and solid. In some panels, the soldiers are entirely brown or green or yellow. There are explosions of black, yellow, and orange which appear to burst out of the panels. In one panel, Glanzman illustrates an endless line of troops marching into the horizon, which depicts the countless—what looks infinite—numbers of individuals present. The sky changes color frequently because, ultimately, the color of the sky doesn’t really matter; what matters is the fight and the rescue. The solid colors allow readers to focus on the action, which, I imagine, would be the real soldiers' focus, as well.
The collection also includes real photos of the troops. This adds a powerful element and a reminder to readers that this is real life. The photo of the men lined up shows the vast numbers of troops patiently waiting for rescue and may be mind-blowing for readers to see. The bonus segments include the story of an American pilot who has been captured by a Japanese supply ship in the Pacific Ocean and two brief shorts about American bombers in Africa in World War II and the Union army’s use of balloons in the American Civil War. These are so brief that I’m left wanting more, curious to learn and experience second-hand the smaller aspects of war that collectively shape history.
Experiencing Glanzman’s works takes us back in time to the Golden Age and into the war. We are the twenty-first century readers who know the stories through textbooks, movies, or our grandparents. Dunkirk and the other shorts give privileged access to a time that keeps getting farther away from us—a time where real heroes fought devastating battles and used their combat skills and acumen to fight for their countries and protect human lives.
Creative Team: Sam Glanzman
Publisher: It's Alive
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