The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme - Joe Sacco
Some events leave you at a loss for words. Luckily, images can step in. Some of the most eloquent these days come from the pen and ink of Joe Sacco. After graphically documenting the tensions and fraught conditions of Palestine and Safe Area Gorzade, he’s turned to the Battle of the Somme. Long fascinated by a conflict so extreme that it could be considered the last of its kind—“the war to end all wars”—Sacco chose July 1, 1916 for his subject, “because that is the point where the common man could have no more illusions about the nature of modern warfare.” While Sacco’s editors suggested Matteo Pericoli’s graceful Manhattan Unfurled as a model, Sacco himself looked to the Bayeux Tapestry (which chronicled events leading to the 1066 Battle of Hastings) and adapted medieval art’s nonrealistic proportion and perspective to give his twentieth-century battle scenes a fittingly timeless and surreal tone. But the details of each scene are historically accurate, and Sacco has included six pages of annotations identifying equipment, landmarks, and activities. The Great War (W.W. Norton, $35) is a slip-cased package pairing Sacco’s stunning sixteen-page, twenty-four-foot long stream of battle with an essay by Adam Hochschild, drawn from his award-winning history, To End All Wars.