Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Sailor's Story

by Stan Glanzman

Already forgot where I heard about this graphic novel, but I was intrigued right away. My fascination with sailors is a close neighbor of my fascination with prisons and boarding schools, and the history angle — both WW II and comics history — is a great selling point too. I even went to the trouble of doing an interlibrary loan request, since my library only has a couple books with excerpts.

After serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, Stan Glanzman became a Golden Age comic book legend, illustrating numerous adventure and sci-fi and dinosaur comics. His stories of wartime were originally published in '87-'89 and recently re-published. The new edition is full of praise from other comics giants, both new and old. (I only skimmed the intro material, so apologies if I'm getting any of these details wrong.)

The edition I read includes a "second" book, A Sailor's Story: Winds, Dreams, and Dragons, which actually seems choppier and as if it were sketches and vignettes that got refined into the "first" book. The two have a lot of overlap, and the first is more of a narrative and more enjoyable. This look at the daily life of a WW II sailor is at times lighthearted, showing young men working and goofing off. The work of running a ship is mundane and banal but also tense and alien, juxtaposed with the brutality and horror of war. Being relatively short, however, this book only offers glimpses of the horror, so much sinking and bombing and death, so many civilians' lives and homes destroyed too, and ships that sank, killing hundreds of sailors, just because of storms.

Thumbs up all around for story, art, historical significance.

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