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CHURCHILL – A Graphic Biography

CHURCHILL – A Graphic Biography

Christoph Regnault & Vincent Demas
ARRSE Rating
3 Mushroom Heads
Translated by Ivanka Hahenberger

Foreword by Andrew Roberts

Introduction and Historical Consultant Francois Kersaudy

A graphic novel about the life of Winston Churchill from a child at Blenheim Palace to the end of the second world war. It is possible that some Arrsers will think of graphic novels as 'cartoon' books, not to be taken seriously. If such is the case I invite them to read some of the Judge Dredd collections, especially America – which tells a story well and has an emotional ending. The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Graphic novels are an alternative way of telling a story and requires good interplay between the artist and the script writer to have it's effect. Does this work in Churchill – a Graphic Biography; yes – but just.

A translation from French, the general history of Churchill seems accurate enough, but the introduction mentions the invasion of Norway in 1941, which put me on alert for other obvious innacuracies, but I found no more. The script moves well and pulls no punches in places, pointing out Churchill's father died of syphilis; however I shall say no more about Churchill's life as most Arrsers should know about Churchill, and if you don't you should; and if you don't want to read about it in a standard weighty tome, then this is the book for you. There is some necessary abridging of meetings and conversations to make it work in a graphic novel, but the character interaction works well.

The book has a text and photographic introduction by Kersaudy before going onto the graphic novel, which is split into two distinct pieces, although three would have been more appropriate. The first part deals with childhood, army officer, reporter, entry into parliament and the first world war. There should have been a natural break there but it goes straight to 1932. There is a proper break to 1939 and the second world war. The book ends with 1945 and Victory in Europe, so does not go on to VJ day and Churchill's life after. Delmas treats Churchill with sympathy, perhaps bordering on the sycophantic. He has Churchill supporting politicians who do not have the Churchillian vision, and belittles those who oppose him, whether their reasons are good or otherwise.

Regnault's artwork looks to me like a cross between Simon Fraser and Neil Googe and works well on people and buildings, but falls down on uniforms and equipment. French uniforms come over as well researched, but British and American as fairly hit and miss. A pre- WW1 super dreadnought seems modeled (Badly) on a King George V battleship and sports a triple turret in one frame, and quadruple turrets in following frames. Other ships, while I can guess the class, are just 'bad'. There is a 40mm Bofors in WW1. Aircraft seem generic rather than a real type. A Blenheim being the most true to life; some can be guessed but single engine fighters again seem to be a generic type. Tanks look better than a Daily Mail reporters description of them, but not much. Call me picky, but technically it all seems like Terry Pratchett's description of tea in The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

A good attempt to take a complex biography and put it into a graphic novel style, let down by bad technical research. 3 Mr Mushroomheads from me.
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