Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Normandy; A Graphic History of D-Day 2012

“…The Allied Invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe…”
Books like Normandy; A Graphic History of D-Day are difficult to categorize. This is not exactly a graphic novel, although Normandy resembles the comic books visually. I would classify it as an educational comic, the type that schools used to give away in the 1960s, like The Story of the Atom, or the comic books published by Gilberton Comics and True Comics. 

The educational comics in newspaper strips at least go back as far as 1924 with Highlights of History by J. Carroll Mansfield. 

It’s no secret that students in North America and abroad have little knowledge of the past; teaching of chronology and specific dating is a rarity and it’s not hard to find young readers in their twenties who don’t know when World War I started or the year it came to an end. Critics complain that today’s history textbooks suffer from an emphasis on multiculturalism and a political correctness that sacrifices a long view of history to focus on historical grievances. As A.L. Granatstein noted in Who Killed Canadian History? (1998, revised 2007) “…the past is not supposed to be completely twisted out of shape to serve present ends.” 

In interviews, writer-illustrator Wayne Vansant has described his historical works as ‘teaching tools,’ so it seems Normandy would probably appeal to school teachers and librarians more than comic fans. Vansant’s series of fact-based graphic histories are refreshingly free of controversy; the violence is graphic but not sensational. The whole story of Normandy is told in a brief 94 pages which does not allow for a very detailed analysis of events – but it works quite well as an introduction. Text is in captions running under the pictures and the artwork is nicely drawn and colored in a style reminiscent of sometime war cartoonists Sam Glanzman or John Severin.

Normandy; A Graphic History of D-Day, written and illustrated by Wayne Vansant, Zenith Press, 2012

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