James Bacon’s verdict is that the finest war story about The Great War is a comic. It’s Charley’s War, originally published over three decades ago, and now reprinted by Titan Books as a 10-volume set, with commentary, essays, photos and reference material.
James’ review of Charley’s War, posted at Forbidden Planet, benefits from the perspectives of his recent conversation with writer Pat Mills.
His review is also partly autobiographical — James’ father bought the comic as it came out in the late Seventies and early Eighties and he was deeply influenced.
Even as a boy, a child, one could see the good and the bad. Mills was able to craft a depth to his characters, so one could feel the broader conflict, and see the horrors in individuals, and it was clear they were part of an overall system, driven by class and a pox on the ordinary soldier. The writing captures a broader perspective for the reader, bringing elements that are unknown in my case, or less known to bear, and the treatment of soldiers so horrible, and yet as a boy I could understand that sometimes the enemy is not the coal-scuttle helmeted stormtrooper, who occasionally would be portrayed as just as hapless as some of Charley’s buddies, but the officer class, the system, the cowardice within and how empathy for humanity is something that friends understand but the class system wants to destroy.
[Thanks to James Bacon for the link.]