World War II was a horrific period in history for everyone it touched, from those fighting to those left behind. But for Alan Cope, an American G.I. stationed in Europe, the war became a fundamental part of his life’s experiences – shaping him, moulding him, and supplying him with friendships that would last the rest of his life.
Alan didn’t returned to America after the war, choosing instead to settle in Europe. It was here, on an island off the coast of France, that a chance encounter lead to him befriend Emmanuel Guibert, a star artist of the French graphic novel scene. Their friendship blossomed into a creative endeavour and the result is this fascinating biography.
Don’t let the similar name give you the impression that this might be an action comic (albeit with a conscience) like Charley’s War. Although he certainly sees some action, Alan’s retelling of events skirts around the details of conflict and focuses on the non-combat side of life. He goes into great detail about his training, the friends he makes and his relationships. It’s like a social commentary on life in the army at the time.
Emmanuel gives Alan the space to breathe his own life into the book. While its Emmanuel’s adaptation and illustration, he deliberately sinks into the background of Alan’s monologue, bringing a visual depth to the words without taking them over, using backgrounds sparingly to focus our attention on Alan and his friends.
Those looking for heroes will certainly find them here, though Alan’s heroics are understated, lacking in violence and action. Instead we’re left with an unusual but deeply compelling anecdotal document of the war, that tells true tales of camaraderie and adventure, without descending into blood and guts. It’s a different kind of war story, a story told the way G.I. Alan Cope, who died in 1999 while Guibert was working on the book, wanted to tell it.
Read more books by Emmanuel Guibert:
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