Published by the Accent UK collective, Remembrance Days is an anthology of war stories by British small press talent. With a distinctive two tone cover, the red on white becoming a signature of this comics collective, the comic has a quality feel. The artwork within doesn’t always hit the mark but on the whole I was impressed by the standard of the writing.
Highlights include Baz Renshaw’s ‘By So Many’, a near wordless comic using iconography of war and memorabilia so familiar that we often don’t consider what’s signified. A series of stills form the comic - bullets hitting home, a Belsen-emaciated face, a POW cell, a burning church; the images follow through to the inevitable conclusion- a single cenotaph, countless graves. It’s well drawn, unsentimental and the whole effect is more powerful than two minutes silence.
The next story is John Gallagher’s ‘Desperate Glory’. At first, the juxtaposition of this with ‘By So Many’ seems a little in bad taste. ‘Desperate Glory’ is at first glance a Superhero yarn that, by now, you’re not in the mood for.
However the story takes an unexpected twist, Captain Glory’s sidekick is killed in action. Breaking generic convention, the Boy Wonder is all too human. Blown to pieces on the battlefield, Captain Glory can’t save him, only retrieve the boys’ dismembered body.
Other stories here include ‘The Day Everything Stopped’ by Dave West. The story is told through a child’s perspective, which translates the events of war into fantasy. It’s an interesting idea but doesn’t work hard enough towards a satisfying conclusion. Craig Fenton’s artwork on the story is striking and bold, but again, seems to blur and make the setting vague leaving you unsure as to whether this is past or future.
‘Occupied Territory’ by Leon is the story of a wartime cat escaping the fate of it’s young mistress. A soldier later finds the cat, mewing over a broken picture of its lost owner, leading the Nazi to ponder what became of the rest of the family. It’s a simple idea but doesn’t work hard enough in terms of writing or artwork to earn its place alongside the other stories here.
The comic closes with ‘Smokes’ by Colin Mathieson. A modern day setting, a young man, of the hanging around street corners kind, demonstrates to his fellow scallies how he connives cigarette money off an old codger. ‘It’s me Charlie, Danny, I need your help to get some smokes’. In Charlie’s dim mind, events from half a century ago are replayed as on the field he watches Danny crawl across a minefield to take cigarettes from a dead soldier’s pocket. As the young scally in modern day trigger’s this memory, we watch the face of the old veteran fall mournful. The trick pays off and the old man hands over cigarette money. It’s well written and it’s drawn with simple clarity. The artwork isn’t wholly consistent, but sometimes Mathieson captures the events and poignancy perfectly. The story however is strong enough and fluently told for this not to matter. It forms a fitting climax to the comic, bringing you historically to the present day, the here and now.
A mixed package then, but well presented, at times excellent but always thought provoking.
£1.95 from Engine Comics
28 pages, B+W, Colour Cover