Zarjaz! British Comics Lay in to Gove over First World War

Pat-Mills-header

Pat Mills and some of the characters from 2000 AD

There’s a great bit of news for comics fans in today’s I. According to the article ‘Graphic Novelists Take on Gove over First World War’, Britain’s leading comic artists are to produce a graphic novel, To End All Wars. It’s going to be an anthology of 27 stories based on real events, some of which are told from the point of view of the soldiers themselves. The I states that the novel aims to undermine the jingoistic commemorations of the conflict’s centenary.

As part of this, it takes very firm aim at Michael Gove, who earlier this year complained that ‘left-wing academics’ were misrepresenting the War and casting aspersions over the courage and patriotism of the men, who fought in it. In the introduction, veteran British comics writers and editor, Pat Mills, states

Currently, we are fed the spin-doctors’ version of legalised mass murder, legitimised as ‘heroic sacrifice’ with challenging, embarrassing or difficult facts whitewashed from the record. Michael Gove and his ilk dutifully talk about a noble sacrifice and a just war. I hope this collection will help to counteract their lies and commemorate the centenary as … a search for the truth.

The I duly notes that Mills as the creator of ‘Charley’s War’ and, as Squaxx Dek Thargo (Friends of Tharg, the comic’s alien editor) will know, the classic SF comic 2000 AD. As the writer for ‘Charley’s War’, Mills has previous on such issues. ‘Charley’s War’ ran in the 1970s and 80s in the British war comic, Battle. Set during the First World War, the strip was profoundly anti-war, and portrayed the emotional and physical costs of the conflict on the troops. For example, I remember one scene in which one old soldier back home in Britain breaks down in tears as a squad of lead toy soldiers melts into the fire, reminding him of the very real mates he lost in the fighting.

The new comic book includes a strip, ‘The Coward’s War’, the story of first British soldier to be executed for desertion, Thomas Highgate, as well as other stories where the architects of the conflict are put on trial at the Hague.

I’ve blogged before about the need for more radical comics and graphic novels to tackle some of the injustices and wicked policies committed by this government. I’m very glad that Mills and the other leaders of the British comics industry have decided to wade in to tackle this issue. It certainly needs tackling, as yet more television documentaries and drama series set in the War come out. This should correct the historiographical imbalance and show just how terrible the War was, stripping it of some of the romantic glamour that may have accrued around it in some of the mainstream offerings.

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6 Responses to “Zarjaz! British Comics Lay in to Gove over First World War”

  1. Ulysses Says:

    I wonder if Alan Moore will get on board with this? Very exiting developments…

  2. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    I’m on very good terms with quite a few people in the British comics industry and 2000 AD in general, so I’m absolutely delighted that they are coming together on this project. Congratulations to all; I hope it will be a success and will do everything I can to help.

  3. neil baillie Says:

    The old lie ‘Dulce et decorum est, pro patri mori’ To die for one’s country is a fine and fitting thing. I’m glad that Pat Mills and others are taking on this subject. I wish them success. I’ve been a fan of these people for years, and Charlie’s War is a masterpiece.

  4. Jovan Says:

    Hi – I’ve reposted this article to my blog (pocketwarcomics.blogspot.com). Hope you don’t mind.

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