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Trenches Paperback – June 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mills (Big Clay Pot) generally uses his whimsical style to tell fairly simple stories. But his new Ignatz Award-winning work takes on the dark complexities of WWI. The story opens in 1914, as two English brothers offer different reactions to the prospect of going off to war. Lloyd Allenby is the typical loyal soldier, tenderly bidding his wife farewell. Meanwhile, his brother Davey is enjoying his version of a hero's farewell, in bed with two sisters. Readers also meet Jonathan Hemingway ("It'll be over by Christmas," he tells his wife), an older man who will be the Allenbys' commanding officer through the trials that follow. Mills follows the trio (and Hemingway's dog) as they squat in trenches and witness their first intense action at Amiens. They survive gas attacks and the battle of Ypres, leading up to the horrific battle of the Somme. Between the gruesome battles, the story flashes back to the two brothers' childhood, where readers learn of Davey's irresponsible past-pulling mean tricks and missing Lloyd's wedding-as well as Hemingway's relationship to the men. This is all prelude to the ghastly battle at Somme, where Davey and Lloyd share a moment of truth. Although cliched in spots, Mills's story is sweet and humane, presenting immensely likable characters trapped in a grim situation. But his sketchy, minimalist drawings are a problem. This style of whimsical illustration is simply not up to the task of portraying the brutal violence and psychological devastation of war.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Publisher

Scott Mills first gained notoriety in 1998 for his Xeric award-winning comic book, "Cells." He has since taken the comics' world by storm with his countless short stories, all of which have displayed his exceptional talent of mixing lovable characters with an undeniable sense of humanity. With Big Clay Pot, his first full-length work of last year, and now Trenches, Mills is poised to establish himself as a unique voice in contemporary cartooning.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891830287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891830280
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,432,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SusieQ on August 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
First of all, I give kudos to the author for attempting this graphic novel. He obviously did background research into WWI, and the story isn't a bad one.

That being said, I didn't like the book. I found it naive; the work of someone who just hasn't thought enough about the time period, or perhaps just didn't completely let his research and his creation of a fictional world 'jell' into something worthwhile. As to the research, and faithfulness or accuracy to the time period, there are some unfortunate lapses. Just for example, the author gave the name, Brianna, to one of the women characters. Well, who knows, maybe there were women named Brianna in 1914, but when I read it I thought, hmmm, a somewhat "modern" name to give a character from 1914-1918.

All the novel's characters are depicted shallowly. How can you care about these characters when you don't learn anything about them - they remain incomplete stick figures. Why was Davey such a s--t to his brother, Lloyd, all their lives? Why did Lloyd suck up his brother's brutality, ignorance and selfishness all the time? Why did Lloyd, after a lifetime of being ignored or brutalized by his older brother, let Davey talk him into enlisting in the first place? It's frustrating that these questions are not answered; that the reader is given no hint at the answers.

Then again, in another flawed character creation, Major Hemmingway, the brothers' commanding officer, is a stereotypical Col. Blimp, British officer-type; not unpleasant, just unoriginal. The incompleteness of the character is frustrating.

I mean, you have only to compare this graphic novel to Art Spiegelman's MAUS, and the quality of MAUS just shines more brightly.
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