Reading List: The World at War

reading-list

November 9, 2018

In commemoration of Armistice Day centenary, we’ve put together the most striking stories set during WWI and WWII from the Europe Comics collection .

The Folies Bergère

We’re right in the middle of World War I, deep in the trenches. The soldiers are confronted by unimaginable suffering and violent death on a daily basis. Considered as nothing more than cannon fodder by their superiors, they try desperately to survive. Partly as an act of defiance in the face of hardship, partly as the ultimate irony, the soldiers nickname their regiment after the famous Parisian cabaret club ‘Folies Bergère’. They laugh and joke, they write, they draw, they fight, they die in appalling circumstances, they kill themselves, they lose their minds. And then one of their number is sentenced to death by firing squad… and miraculously survives…

Mezek

1948. The creation of the Hebrew state is proving to be not exactly a peaceful affair, starting with the Egyptian bombs that are regularly falling on Tel-Aviv. All that Israel has to fight the lethal enemy ‘Spitfires’ are some old ‘Mezek’, flown by Jewish volunteers from all over the world, but also mercenaries from rather more sinister backgrounds. Bjorn is one of those mercenaries. He’s come to risk his life for several million dollars, a fact that galls his brothers-in-arms, who are fighting not for cash but for their ideals!

The Jewish Brigade

For this first installment of “The Jewish Brigade” we find ourselves in 1945 Poland. Leslie and Ari, two British soldiers, carry out an ambush near a church. They’re looking for a priest… that Leslie then kills. He was an SS agent. The two men get back on the road; other missions await. Marvano takes us through the ranks of one of the least known divisions of the British army.

Vice Squad

It is the winter of 1937, and Aimé Louzeau lives with his mother and their servant. One day, he goes to the Quai des Orfèvres, the police prefecture of Paris, to speak with the vice squad. He currently works in the Criminal Investigation department, but crimes of passion and back alley stabbings really aren’t his thing, so he requests a transfer from Chief Inspector Séverin. The atmosphere immediately darkens, as Louzeau is thrown straight into the interrogation of a pimp called Guapito and his prostitute.

The Reprieve

June 1943. Julien Sarlat jumps from the train transporting him to Germany and manages to get back to his small village in the Aveyron, Cambeyrac, where he hides, without the villagers’ knowledge, to await the end of the hostilities. In a strange turn of fate, the train that he was on is bombed, and one of the corpses is identified as his. In the eyes of society, he is now dead. Taking advantage of this unexpected situation, he hides away in the attic of his old school teacher, who was arrested by the French Gestapo for suspected communist leanings. From that moment on Julien, from his observatory overlooking the village square, is the spectator of this everyday theater of ordinary people going about their business. Love, hatred, envy, cowardice, passion and heroism: the onlooker sees the most.

The Red Poster

This is the story of Marcel Rayman, a young Polish Jew whose face is featured on the infamous ‘Affiche Rouge’, propaganda circulated in occupied France in an attempt to discredit the Parisian resistance. The Nazi abomination drove Rayman to set aside his pacifist principles and take up arms in the ranks of Missak Manoukian’s resistance movement. For two long years, during which he saw his entire family deported, Marcel Rayman led a clandestine life, shrouded in death, fear and treachery.

The Wolves of La Louvière 

Belgium, 1940. The German army is spreading across Europe, and tiny Belgium is conquered in 18 days. During the four long years of the Nazi occupation, the women of La Louvière have to figure out some way to stay alive, to live their lives, and to keep up hope. Their world is drawn through teenage Marcelle’s journal: What does she do? How do her family members endure? Which women in town collaborate with the occupying forces, and which women choose to fight? As always in wartime, the women take over for the absent men and keep their world spinning.

Black Cotton Star

Philadelphia, 1776: George Washington asks Betsy Ross to design the first flag of the future United States of America. Her housemaid, Angela Brown, adds to it a secret tribute to the black community: a black cotton star that she slips under one of the white stars. Dover, 1944: A soldier named Lincoln receives a letter that reveals Angela Brown’s memoirs. Does the star that she mentions truly exist? In light of this revelation, three African-American soldiers set out on a dangerous mission, ranging from liberated Paris to the snow-covered Ardennes, seeking answers, and the ultimate prize…

Spirou: The Diary of a Naive Young Man

Summer 1939, Brussels. The orphaned teenager Spirou is working as a bellboy at a fancy hotel, living in a small apartment with his pet squirrel, Spip, and taking his first steps into the land of romance with a girl whose name he doesn’t even know. Meanwhile, the world is rushing headlong towards war. Conflict is not inevitable, however, as Polish diplomats have agreed to meet the Nazis at Spirou’s hotel in a last-ditch effort to prevent war. Communist spies, Nazi ambitions, and ridiculous reporters can’t stop Spirou’s naïve mind from outsmarting them all—and possibly saving the world! If only he can get a little help.

Operation Copperhead

Adventure, drama, spies, secrets, and even a dash of romance. This extraordinary story tells the tale of two movie stars being pulled into the intrigue of counterintelligence and disinformation campaigns during World War II. Churchill is looking for someone to impersonate Britain’s top general, and it’s up to David Niven and Peter Ustinov to train the lucky lad. They’re in a race against the clock and a battle against all the usual vices—wine and women included—to turn a second-rate actor into General Montgomery in this uproarious and award-winning graphic novel, where the truth might be stranger than fiction.

Reading the Ruins

Is every man killed in combat reborn in the sky in the form of a star? Is seeing a bus in your dreams really a sign of impending death? In 1917, Jan Van Meer, an operative with the Allies’ intelligence services and a renowned expert on folklore, travels across Europe in search of an engineer named Hellequin, inventor of the dream cannon and barbed plant-wire now obsessed with reading the ruins of war. Van Meer’s mission: not to find Hellequin at all costs. With his trademark wit, original drawing style, and wild animation, David B. takes viewers deep into the torment of the Great War, where beliefs and superstitions inextricably mix with the horror of reality.

The Photographer of Mauthausen

This is a dramatic retelling of true events in the life of Francisco Boix, a Spanish press photographer and communist who fled to France at the beginning of World War II. But there, he found himself handed over by the French to the Nazis, who sent him to the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp, where he spent the war among thousands of other Spaniards and other prisoners. More than half of them would lose their lives there. Through an odd turn of events, Boix finds himself the confidant of an SS officer who is documenting prisoner deaths at the camp. Boix realizes that he has a chance to prove Nazi war crimes by stealing the negatives of these perverse photos—but only at the risk of his own life, that of a young Spanish boy he has sworn to protect, and, indeed, that of every prisoner in the camp.

 

Header image: The Folies Bergère © Zidrou / Francis Porcel / Dargaud

  • BAO-logo
  • Tunue-logo