Tuesday, May 29, 2007


So, who watched Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed on The History Channel last night? Obviously a good way to spend Memorial Day; Remembering of all the valiant rebel Soldiers and Jedi that died during the Clone Wars and in the struggle to liberate the galaxy from the Empire.

Actually, I quite enjoyed the program, which illustrated the mythological and historical basis for the Star Wars saga, even though most of the references were old hat to a Star Wars Scholar like myself. Joseph Campbell=duh.

In some ways, more interesting was another program called Star Wars: Tech that discussed the “science” in the Star Wars films; what was reality-based, what was impossible and what real inventions are on the horizon. Some amazing stuff in the robotics and bionics field. And who knew that plasma was a fourth state of matter? In any case, it’s always a riot to hear scientists complain that there is no sound in outer space, or speculating how a light saber could possibly work.

Star Wars. Hard to believe it’s been 30 years. Yeesh.

Speaking of war, I’m currently reading an interesting book about a soldier who died durring the Battle of Arras in World War I. The book is called To Arras, 1917 and is written by Walter Reid, who is the nephew of the soldier in the story, Ernest Reid. I’m a bit of a WWI buff—well, an interested amateur, to be honest—but what I find riveting about this particular story is that while it chronicles the life & background of Ernest Reid in particular, it also focuses on the broader questions of WHY that particular generation was so gung-ho to enlist and serve in that war. There really was so much enthusiasm that is difficult for people to understand today. Especially since the First World War was much less of a clear-cut “moral” war than WWII. The youth of that generation seemed to relish in the ‘adventure’ of the war, treating it as a rite of manhood, and a solemn duty to God and Country. Anyhow, I’m still reading, but I’m impressed with the author’s take on the subject, and how he personalized the story using his uncle’s experience.

I’m reading the Arras book in preparation for a vacation to France this summer. We’ll be spending a couple of days in Arras, and so I naturally want to know more about the region’s history. Also, as I mentioned, for several years I’ve been fascinated by The Great War. One of my ‘dream projects’ is to do a graphic novel in that setting. I have many ideas, but nothing concrete yet. One day, I will do it, though it will be daunting task. I don’t know how I—or anyone else--can compete with the art in Jacques Tardi’s C'√©tait la Guerre des Tranch√©es: 1914-1918. The visuals in that graphic Novel are simply amazing. Tardi is, perhaps, my all-time favorite comic book artist.

It was only by coincidence that I happened to be reading the Arras book on Memorial Day, but it did make me take some time to think about those that have given their lives for the great cause of liberty, from which we all benefit. As well as those who have died for other ideals we may or may not agree with. In either case, the individual soldier has a special job that makes all our lives possible. It is only just that we have a holiday to honor the memories of those people that have made that sacrifice. I hope that this weekend you all took a few minutes between the barbecue and the History Channel to think about that.


Allen Gladfelter said...

I agree that a comic set during WW1 would be an interesting project. Don't let the fact that someone has already made a good WW1 book deter you. The subject is by no means exhausted. I think a good argument could be made that WW1 was a pivot point in history, which changed our notions of war fundamentally and permanently. First use of flamethrowers, first use of poison gas, first machine guns, first airplanes, first tanks. Throwing men into that situation, the "meat grinder," changed the man-to-man dynamic of warfare that had persisted even through the American Civil War and had been a defining characteristic of warfare throughout the entire history of warfare. Or so I have heard, I am certainly no expert on the topic. But truly, I think it's a great idea, and one that has rarely been depicted in modern American comics. I hope you can sell a publisher on the idea, I'd like to read that book!

Marc Siry said...

Howabout Star Wars set in WWI? Darth Vader's already got a gas mask.

The Death Star can be a giant Land Dreadnought (did you know that what we call 'tanks' today used to be called Land Ships?).

Actually, you can drop the Star Wars stuff, as long as you include a Land Dreadnought.