Staff Picks (May): I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner Of War In Stalag IIB

Fantagraphics has a long and interesting history, beginning with its earliest foundation with a young Gary Groth and his Marvel fanzine and before long came Comic Journal and Amazing Heroes. Love and Rockets might have been their first venture into publishing comics and from there the doors were open for the best in experimental comics and graphic novels as well as the introduction of European masters in comic storytelling.

Jacque Tardi became one of the linchpins of European graphic novels from Fantagraphics and now they have released the first of two volumes dealing with World War II and the atrocities of German concentration camps. In I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB we are provided a personal and detailed study of surviving under brutal and dehumanizing conditions as a POW in World War II as only a survivor could describe.

Tardi uses strong graphics and detailed dialogue in allowing his father’s experience to be available to a new generation. This is a fitting companion to Maus and maybe more compelling due to the visuals. Much like how the Vietnam vets were treated upon their return those surviving these POW camps were also seen as “losers” in a war where France’s war history seems to be either a heroic resistance fighter or Vichy bastard.

Tardi should be proud of this project born of curiosity of a time in his family’s history. In a time where survivors of POW camps as well as of the Holocaust are passing away books like this are a needed reminder of the horrors of war and show you the power of the comic book format at its best.

Steve Leaf

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Item Code: MAY181678
Release Date: 7/25/18
SRP: $29.99

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