Perfect Present

Very hard to get presents right, but when you do, it shows. Today’s my 70th birthday, and my son just happens to have hit the spot. For years I’ve been a Joe Sacco fan. His Palestine is a mix of personal story and recent history, which tells you everything you need to know about the Occupied Territories without getting preachy of solemn. I was used to the innocent drawing style, the apparently simple language in which Sacco shows himself trying to understand what’s going on. But Great War is something else. It’s a book without a back, that opens out like a concertina, a kind of modern Bayeux Tapestry which tells the story of the first day of the Somme in hugely detailed “Where’s Willy?”-type drawings, and not a word in sight. Well, there is an accompanying booklet, and a helpful commentary, and some useful information and statistics, but the main drawings still work on their own, a gradually evolving mass of love and care and detail. No, its no use. This can’t do it justice. But I’m so glad I’ve got it.