For the Fallen has been described as “the most frequently quoted war poem, having a resonance for all wars and all nations”. Ok, so I got that from Wikipedia, but so many lines from it are instantly recognisable even if you hadn’t heard of its 1914 author, Laurence Binyon. “Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.” It will always ring out loudly.
For the Fallen and other poems came pretty hot off the back of the Warrior’s of Honour book for OUP and despite the fact that it couldn’t have been more different in nature I was ecstatic at being asked to illustrate the title poem and cover, especially after hearing the pitch – a collection of war poetry told in graphic novella form. I love comics – what a great opportunity to make one.
The design team at OUP gave me the brief which dramatised the poem from the perspective of a grieving mother and father, coming to terms with the loss of their sons in World War One. My great granddad, James Hunn, was a stretcher bearer in the trenches so it resonated immediately. Ever since my mum told me that about him, I’ve always felt greatly troubled imagining what he saw and how he coped. This project gave me another way to look at it, from the perspective of my great grandmother, and even though she never received the dreaded telegraphs the Mother of this adaptation of For The Fallen received, she will have felt the same loss as he went to war and the same elation on his return.
For the Fallen and other poems isn’t just about WW1 though; poetry from other conflicts including the American Civil War and the Crimean War also feature, illustrated by some brilliant comic book artists including Tim Gibson and Tom Humberstone. This ‘Graphic Texts’ series is overseen by comics legend Dave Gibbons.
So while the target age-range is 8 to 11 years it’s bound to appeal to lovers of graphic novels and comics generally.
Published September 2016.
You can read about the work in progress on this blogpost.
This exciting poetry collection, told in graphic form, makes poems come alive for a modern audience. Each poem is presented in both in graphic and text-only versions. ‘There is music in the midst of desolation.’ This emotive collection of poems looks at the harshness of life in the trenches during the First World War, the brutal battlefields of the American Civil War and the senseless charge of the light brigade in the Crimean War. This book also contains notes on the inside front and back covers with advice on supporting older children with their reading, ideas for follow-up activities and higher-level comprehension questions.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Buy For the Fallen and other poems