Work is proceeding apace on finalizing To End All Wars, a collection of short comic stories set during World War One, edited by Jonathan Clode and John Stuart Clark (aka the artist ‘Brick’)
The anthology, first mooted back in January, will feature over 20 stories, with the Pleece Brothers making a bid for last slot.
2014, as if you needed reminding, marks the centenary of World War One. In years gone by, comics about World War One and Two were commonplace in the UK, but only Commando remains on the news stand. However, in France and Belgium they are still produced and very much revered.
“My goal is to revive and reinvigorate this part of the genre,” says Jonathan, “and in doing so commemorate the lives and deeds of those men and women who were affected by ‘the war to end all wars’.”
Jonathan’s brief was simple: a call for stories each ranging from 6-10 pages in length, he subject matter anything that relates to World War One, “as long as it is honest and does not seek to glorify war.
“Anyone who has read ‘Charley’s War’ by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun will know what I’m going on about!” he says.
Of course, To End All Wars won’t be the only World War One related project out there in the coming months. Titan Books are to re-release the entire Charley’s War series that inspired many of the contributors to this new anthology in print, while Egmont will publish it digitally. Christopher Menaul’s film Summer in February has just been released and Joe Sacco’s fold-out diorama The Great War, fixing on 1st July 1916 is out now in the US. The stage adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong is now touring UK theatres.
The beauty of the To End All Wars project is the range of themes it covers, away from the usual focus on the Western Front. “We have dramatic reconstructions of the war in the Atlantic that could have come straight out of Steve Ditko’s vault of horror” outline Jonathan and Brick on the project’s web site. “We have the story of combatants’ affection and need for pets in the trenches, related exclusively in pictures . We have the obligatory war poet’s story, but that of a Welsh hill farmer rather than some bit of posh who’s been done to death. And we have a feminist take on the controversial Mata Hari and the very personal story of an author’s search for their great grandfather’s memorial.
“We have low humour, high drama, weird fantasy, even a couple of love stories and sincere tributes. We take readers to East Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Turkey, and we are non-partisan, with narratives from the ‘other side’ of the conflict, not least that of the greatest unofficial war artist of all time. Personally we can’t wait to see it all wrapped between covers we can get a hold on!
“And one other thing that is exciting… most of our contributors are either novices or relative unknowns in the comics game, yet they are putting in turns that eclipse most of what passes for graphic narrative these days. What’s more, they are working their pinkies to the bone for no greater reward than the satisfaction of involvement in a landmark publication slated to be released at a unique moment in history. All power to them and their dedication!”
27 stories will feature in the anthology with contributors that include Brick, Jonathan Clode, Michael Crouch, Steve Martin, Sean Michael Wilson, Matt Soffe, Ian Douglas, Petri Hänninen, Sarah Jones, Bex Burgess, Chris Martinez, Stjepan Mihaljevic, SAM Richards, Lotte Grünseid , Chris Colley and Alex Wilson.
“Each story is rooted in fact,” says Jonathan, “though where our writers have chosen to take their stories continues to impress for the sheer adventure of their imaginations.”