Inspired from assorted first-hand accounts, this fictional story of World War I is a sweeping look across the war and the soldiers who experienced the horrors of the front lines and high seas. The nightmares of World War I and the fallout after are often overlooked, this book asks the reader to look again and remember the dead, to weigh their number against those that would choose war. Conceived as a long, continuous camera pan through the trenches and beyond, the reader is soon buried in mud, corpses, and ruin, emerging on the other side with blurred recollections of lost comrades and a nagging sense of pointless destruction.
Trench Dogs by Ian Densford is an ambitious graphic novel whose focus on visuals is both a strength and bigger weakness. Trench Dogs is an attempt to pull off a single tracking shot in comic form and while that’s achieved, the specifics of the story are a detriment to that concept.
Densford’s story wakes place in the nightmarish World War I with each nationality represented by a unique animal a concept we’ve seen before in the likes of Maus. But, this is war with scenes packed with individuals, so many it’s hard to keep track as to who to care about. There’s so much packed in, it’s hard to focus in on anything while taking in everything. The lack of dialogue too makes it difficult to focus in an who we’re supposed to care about as each sequence hands off to the next in a Tarantino like way.
The art is detailed and impressive. Densford’s talent there isn’t in question at all. But, while putting in so much detail, so much packed in on every panel and page, the art is a detriment to the story. It’s beautiful to look at but without enough visual clues as to the focus, it’s hard to connect with anything present. The horror becomes a panel the death just another image and detail.
This is an impressive attempt to do something different in the comics medium and in so many ways it succeeds. With a little bit of pulling back and more of a focus on a few stories that interconnect the overall package might have been stronger. Still, as far as a debut for a publisher, this is a hell of a start that shows Dead Reckoning is a publisher that is willing to try different things and Densford is a creator to keep your eye on.
Story: Ian Densford Art: Ian Densford
Story: 4.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read
Dead Reckoning provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review