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Mad geniuses, Jules Verne-style deliriums, dinosaurs, sex, bloodshed, and the madness of World War I — two strange and surreal early works by a master of the comics form.
Fantagraphics presents two experimental, early works by the French cartooning legend Tardi. These comics, created in the mid-'70s, provide a fascinating preview of the masterworks of his prolific career. While they are not narratively linked, an eerie sense of foreboding suffuses stories in this collection: they both depict sex and brutal violence and condemn the horrors of war.
The True Story of the Unknown Soldier follows a pulp novelist turned soldier who, driven to delirium amidst the trenches of WWI, becomes tormented by visions of his own seedy creations. This stream-of-consciousness tale visualizes the tortured psyche of its protagonist through dazzling dreamscapes and surreal scenarios. In The National Razor, a soldier returns from war a shattered man. Drowning himself in drink, he wanders the streets of Paris without purpose; in this numb stupor, he finds himself caught up in strange situations, lashes out in unexpectedly violent ways, and ultimately meets with a bloody end. At once a visceral depiction of the trauma wrought by war and a powerful denunciation of the death penalty and France's iconic guillotine.
About the Author
Tardi is a pioneering, internationally award-winning European cartoonist. His Adele Blanc-Sec series was adapted into a feature by Luc Besson, and the animated film April and the Extraordinary World was inspired by his cartooning. He lives in Paris with his wife, the singer Dominique Grange, and their cats.
Jenna Allen is a freelance translator based in Colorado.
In this collection of two avant-garde comic classics of the 1970s, Tardi captivates with a pulsating sense of existential dread.
— Publishers Weekly
Unknown Soldier shows [Tardi's] admirable sense of the absurd. The eccentric, haunted people, gorgeously drawn buildings, both inside and out, and sense of place are fully formed, and the composition is exquisite.
— Slings & Arrows