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Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics Hardcover – July 15, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: First Second (July 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1626720657
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626720657
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

*"This should encourage high school English and history teachers to supplement or even toss the textbook guide and, more importantly, impel young adults to reflect on war with poetry in one hand and a newspaper in the other." - BCCB, STARRED REVIEW

"This wonderful book - beautiful, tragic, funny, and heartbreaking - is perfect to introduce the Trench Poets to high school students." - VOYA

*"Original and evocative . . . This isn't the first and won't be the last WWI poetry anthology issued during the war's centennial, but it may prove to be the most accessible and striking." - Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

*"The real strength of the anthology comes both from the poems selected for it and the variety of visual approaches—ranging from the cartoonish to the phantasmagoric— that prevents it from relying simply on the visual carnage of the “war to end all wars.” - Publisher's Weekly STARRED REVIEW

 

About the Author

Contributors to Above the Dreamless Dead include: Hannah Berry, Stephen R. Bissette, Eddie Campbell, Lilli Carré, Liesbeth De Stercke, Hunt Emerson, Garth Ennis, Simon Gane, Sarah Glidden, Isabel Greenberg, Sammy Harkham, David Hitchcock, Kevin Huizenga, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Peter Kuper, James Lloyd, Pat Mills, Anders Nilsen, Danica Novgorodoff, Luke Pearson, George Pratt, Carol Tyler, and Phil Winslade. Edited by Chris Duffy.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cecelia Larsen on July 31, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I’ve had an interest in fictional accounts of the Great War (or Word War I, as we call it now) for many years. I don’t remember where it started, but books like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series and Suzanne Weyn’s Water Song only stoked the fire. Shana Abé’s The Sweetest Dark would have been another favorite, if only it hadn’t had a love triangle. All that to say, when I heard that First Second was publishing a graphic novel anthology of WWI trench poetry to mark the centennial of the beginning of the conflict, I perked up. I hadn’t read poetry from the period, but it’s something I’ve always meant to do. Editor Chris Duffy’s Above the Dreamless Dead is a powerful little volume, and one I can’t seem to stop talking about.

Here’s a strange idea: take a selection of trench poetry (so-called because the poets themselves often lived and wrote from the Front, which was basically a patchwork of trenches for the duration of the war), and put it in the hands of talented comics artists. See what sorts of collaborations (is that even the right word, if the writers are dead?) ensue. Watch readers cry.

That last isn’t a foregone conclusion – the poetry itself isn’t maudlin. However, if you have a feeling bone in your body, and you read and view the art, and then go to the end of the volume and look through the biographies of the authors and realize that quite a few of them died TOO YOUNG (I expected it, but I was still shocked by the numbers… and when I thought about those great minds, silenced)… I dare you not to get a tiny bit teary. This book isn’t all mournful remembrance, of course. It’s got moments of humor, and there are a few instances of gently whimsical art paired with serious subject matter. And of course it’s all quite beautiful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cato on August 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book is very well done. I've read a bit of war poetry, it's powerful sad stuff. This book has a bunch of great poems each interpreted by a different cartoon artist. Each one brings out a side to the poem that may not be the vision you had in your head, but that's the way poetry works, you can interpret it yourself. I loved the book. Each artist put their soul into their interpretation. Many beautifully made drawings.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Whether you're interested in war poetry, in World War I, in art, or in verbal and visual collaborations, "Above the Dreamless Dead" is a must-buy, a book that is a wonderful addition to both personal and public libraries.

Published to coincide with the commemoration of the centenary of The Great War, the book challenges popular ideas of the genre of comics, especially for those who think immediately of Marvel or Mickey Mouse. The paintings and drawings in this book serve as haunting artistic interpretations of the poetry, and they vary greatly in style and mood, just as the poems themselves express different perspectives on friendship, life, death, and war.

The introduction provides a very brief historical explanation of the conditions of the war on the Western Front, but it is the supplemental information at the end of the book that should not be missed, as it provides background on the poets, and more intriguingly, insight into interpretative motivations of the artists and their readings of the poems.

Each of the comics is listed as an adaptation by the artist, and in the end notes, George Pratt, who illustrated three poems by Wilfred Owen, specifically comments on his attempts to highlight the poems rather than supplant them with his acrylic paintings: "I love the poems so much, and find the words so powerful, that for this project I did not want to do straight sequential narrative....I wanted the words to be the most important aspect of the adaptation. So I basically just put together images that I hope evoke the overall mood and power of the poems without taking away from Owen's words.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By OpenBookSociety dot com on August 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt

I, like so many, I believe, know very little about World War I. While information about the wars following it are greatly discussed and written about and is a part of our lives, this war seems to be a bit hidden, dark and not as note worthy for some reason. This book combines poetry from the trenches and cartoons depicting the feelings they express. I did not know about the Trench Poets, about the famous authors and not so known fellows from Great Britain that portrayed in prose and poems the daily life of the soldier in the trench.

I did not know that most of The Great War was fought in those dreadful trenches. That most of the soldiers of that time spent over half of their military life in those deadly holes. This book gives the reader an inside view of what those young Britains felt, thought and dealt with daily. It weaves their words into cartoons, some funny, most dark and heartfelt. The pictures lead us through the poetry of these men. From The Coward by famous Rudyard Kipling a one sentence prose that says so much –

“I could not look on death, which being known, men lead me to him, blindfolded and alone”.
We go from The Call to War in the first chapter, then on to In The Trenches in the second and end with Aftermath. The startling death and destruction are dealt with in humor and in stark openness that open our eyes and touch our hearts. In The General by Siegfried Sasson we see the angst of the soldier forced to follow his leaders into wherever, whatever he does and says:

“Cockneys grinning from the sepia shores of Hades do not survive the bitterness that war begets: the century of carnage since your slaughter made us cynics out of very nearly all. So no. And not the peace delivered at such dreadful cost.
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