In Review: World War One (Campfire History)

World War One - Campfire Graphic Novel


by Alan Cowsill (Script) and Lalit Kumar Sharma (Art)
Publisher: Campfire
Out: 20th May 2014 (UK – out now in India)

The Book:

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our time.”

– Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary

World War One, also known as the Great War, involved over thirty nations and resulted in the deaths of millions of young men. This stunning new book brings history to life as we see the war through the eyes of the young conscripted servicemen on all sides of the conflict. Introducing the advent of tanks, airplanes, air raids, submarines and gas attacks, we take a close look at the first modern war of the 20th Century. From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo to the Treaty of Versailles we see for ourselves what life was like in the trenches, on the home front, at sea and in the air. This is more than just a history book; it is a fully illustrated journey into another age.

We follow the fortunes of a group of young conscripts and volunteers to discover what life was really like in the trenches and how they coped with returning home after the horrors of the front line.

British troops prepare to go "over the top". Art © Campfire

British troops prepare to go “over the top”. Art © Campfire

Lalit Sharma's black and white line work for a stunning battle scene and, below, the final cover spread. Art G Campfire

Lalit Sharma’s black and white line work for a stunning battle scene and, below, the final cover spread. Art G Campfire

Art © Campfire

Art © Campfire

The Review: Condensing World War One down to just over 100 pages cannot have been easy for the team on this mammoth project from Indian publisher Campfire, which is carving itself an excellent reputation for award-winning graphic novels recounting the lives of the famous (such as Jason Quinn’s biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs). There are written word texts that have broken the history of the war by year to offer their insights into this terrible conflict.

Full marks then, to British writer Alan Cowsill and Dehli-based artist Lalit Kumar Sharma. Not only have they delivered a personal tale – one man’s war, recounted as he faces death in the trenches of the Western Front.

Art © Campfire

Art © Campfire

Art © Campfire

Gas Attack. Art © Campfire

Art © Campfire

The gas attack offers artist Lalit Sharma the opportunity to homage a classic frame from Battle’s Charley’s War. Art © Campfire

The team on this project have done an excellent job. I really got the feeling this was a world war, rather than the usual focus on the western trenches we have seen elsewhere. Some elements of the conflict – such as the assassination that provided the spark that was used as the excuse to start the war, and Indian soldiers bravery on the western front – are brought to life in this telling.

Alan Cowsill skilfully distills elements of the conflict into a well-told adaptation, and Lalit Kumar Sharma’s art offers a masterful visualisation, delivering powerful images of some of the terrible battles without descending into unnecessary gore. Neither creator flinches, however, from confirming how dreadful this first ‘modern war’ was.

This is a terrific graphic novel, well worth checking out.

Many of Campfire Graphic Novels are proving an excellent synthesis of British and Indian talent, and World War One is no exception.

• Alan Cowsill’s Official Site:

• Lalit Kumar Sharma is deviantart:

• Campfire’s  Classics line present William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and many other timeless favourites:

Read our February 2013 interview with Campfire’s British Creative Content Head Jason Quinn


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