And Then I Read: A SAILOR’S STORY by Sam Glanzman

SailorsStoryImage © Sam Glanzman

This handsome 8.25 by 11 inch full color trade paperback is the first I’ve seen of Dover Publications’ new series of comics reprints. I have lots of Dover books on my shelves, they’re known for quality but inexpensive reprints in a vast number of categories, and I welcome their entry into comics. They’ve done a fine job of reproducing the art from the original Marvel graphic novels of 1987 and 1989, with new material added. 164 large pages for $19.95, a bargain, and a treasure.

There have been few comics written in this genre: autobiographical accounts from World War Two in graphic form. Yes, plenty of ex-G.I.’s wrote and drew war comics, and elements of those were often drawn from their experiences, but they were usually presented as fiction. This book is full of real stories from young Sam’s time as a sailor on board the destroyer U.S.S. Stevens in the South Pacific, where he began serving not long after Pearl Harbor, and saw lots of action through the end of the war. From his accounts, Sam was an average guy from upstate New York who was ill prepared for war, but gamely tackled everything asked of him, from scrubbing decks to manning ammunition stations in combat at sea. While it seems to be true that the sailor’s life is somewhat easier than that of a soldier in war, sudden death is just as common, as the destroyer dealt with submarines, kamikaze pilots, and crazed Japanese soldiers on remote islands. Glanzman is particularly good as showing how war affected the men aboard his and other ships, as well as giving insight into how war devastated the many islands they visited. Sam’s art style is along the lines of Joe Kubert, in that it’s a little loose and full of personality. His writing and art together make this memorable.

An excellent and important work, and highly recommended.

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