In a couple of interviews recorded at Graphic Brighton, on this week’s Panel Borders show, Alex Fitch talks to the creators of a pair of graphic novels that illuminate the lives of two notable people affected by World War One, also known to some as the Great War.
Dave McKean discusses his Black Dog – The Dreams of Paul Nash co-commissioned by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, On a Marche sur la Bulle and 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the World War One centenary, and the touring musical presentation of the book. Published by Dark Horse, the stunning graphic novel has deservedly earned high acclaim for its powerful visuals and interpretation of the life of war artist Paul Nash.
Black Dog – The Dreams of Paul Nash is both a multimedia performance and graphic novel which explores the work of Paul Nash, combining visual storytelling, a captivating musical score and spoken word performance.
The project explores Paul Nash’s role in the birth of modernism and surrealism, “and how those movements were actually witnessed by Nash in the dream-/nightmare-like battlefields of the war,” says Dave, an acclaimed illustrator, filmmaker and musician. “He used the landscape that he loved to try to deal with what he’d been through, and to try and find calm and solace beyond.”
Dave has recently returned to the Great War with strips for the latest 14-18 NOW project, Traces of the Great War, written by Simon Armitage, part of an anthology of strips published by Image Comics.
Contributors to Traces of the Great War also include Charlie Adlard, Simon Armitage, Edmond Baudoin, Juan Díaz Canales, Régis Hautière, Joe Kelly, Kris, Thomas Von Kummant, Denis Lapière, Victoria Lomasko, Maël, Mikiko, Ken Niimura, Sean Phillips, Ian Rankin, Riff Reb’s, Robbie Morrison, Orijit Sen, Bryan Talbot and Mary Talbot.
Kate Evans also explores her graphic biography of Rosa Luxemburg, Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg, which illustrates the life of the Polish Revolutionary.
Described as “utterly brilliant” by fellow comics creator Steve Bell in The Guardian, Red Rosa tells the story of the dramatic life and death of German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. It was publised by Verso Books and shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing 2016.
A giant of the political left, Rosa Luxemburg is one of the foremost minds in the canon of revolutionary socialist thought. But she was much more than just a thinker. She made herself heard in a world inimical to the voices of strong-willed women. She overcame physical infirmity and the prejudice she faced as a Jew to become an active revolutionary whose philosophy enriched every corner of an incredibly productive and creative life — her many friendships, her sexual intimacies, and her love of science, nature and art.
Always opposed to World War One, when others on the German left were swept up on a tide of nationalism, she was imprisoned and murdered in 1919 fighting for a revolution she knew to be doomed.
More recently, Kate’s created a very different book, Don’t call me Princess, a marvellous new take on all those stories of Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White that creates all-new takes on the characters that puts them in the driving seat of their own destinies. It’s gone down a storm with fairy tale fans of all ages.
• Panel Borders: Legacies of the Great War first aired on Resonance 104.4 FM and DAB (London) / and the extended podcast is available at www.panelborders.wordpress.com
• Dave McKean’s official site is at: www.davemckean.com
• The 14-18 NOW site has a dedicated page for Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash where performances are posted and there’s more about the project here on the Lakes International Comic Art Festival site