Monday, December 17, 2012

Professor O | Comics That Do Not Flinch

Greetings fellow fans of the comic book format!

This is Professor O, coming to you live from the SSJCPL. In this installment, we will be looking at some tough as nails, battle tested war corresponding, told (surprisingly enough) through the comic book medium. These are not your feel good, war = fun, rah-rah, "Go our side!" comic books about war. This, fellow adventurer, is the real deal, unfiltered through the eyes of men who were there. In other words: grown folks comics.

The first of the comics is the seminal, Fax From Sarajevo by Joe Kubert. It is the story of Joe Kubert's own friend Ervin Rutsemagic, who along with his family, find themselves struggling to live amid the atrocities which occurred in the eighteen month siege of Sarajevo in 1992-1993. The family tries to keep a semblance of normalcy and sanity while retaining their dignity surrounded by the horrors of war. With nothing to rely on but a a shaky fax machine, Ervin communicated with his friend Joe through hundreds of faxes detailing the atrocities of war and the fears of a family caught in the crossfire. A staggering piece of war corresponding, Fax From Sarajevo towers as one of the most unflinching take on what is to be an innocent bystander trying to keep a semblance of a life within the hell that is war.

Second, we have a historical depiction of war. The Vietnam War: A Graphic History by Dwight Zimmerman, art by Wayne Vansant, gives us a front and center view of what it is to have fought in that war. The story is broken down into chapters, the first one titled Commitment, which takes us through the first stages of America's involvement in the war. This is more historical, retracing the steps that led into full involvement. The last of the chapters, and one of the most personal for the author, is Forgetting and Remembering, in which the author recounts the tragedies of his POW buddies, the pain of returning to a country divided by war, and the reconciliation and healing that came from visiting the Vietnam Memorial.

Two unyielding titles about two of the ugliest moments of history. War is not pretty, war is not glorious, and sometimes just reading a newspaper or watching the news does nothing for our understanding of those who are involved in or caught within a war. These two comics drive the horror home, but also shows the hope and resiliency that it takes for humans to reconcile after such traumatic events.

With this, Professor O wishes you, fellow adventurer, a peaceful goodbye!


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