Tag Archives: Rudyard Kipling

Trench poetry collection cements comics’ dedication to WW1 authenticity

The reality of war: This forthcoming collection, adapting World War One poetry into comics form, might teach Michael Gove a thing or two about factual accuracy.

The reality of war: This forthcoming collection, adapting World War One poetry into comics form, might teach Michael Gove a thing or two about factual accuracy.

Michael Gove won’t like what follows.

But then, he probably thinks that comics are a waste of everybody’s time; children should be too busy reciting their times tables and adults should be sweating on the fracking site or slaving at the workfarehouse. Right?

Too bad. Following on from yesterday’s Beastrabban article about the forthcoming graphic story collection To End All Wars, I got in touch with top writer Pat Mills, and he told me about a couple more World War One-related comics projects that are likely to have Mr Gove boiling in his propaganda pit.

Above the Dreamless Dead from First Second [publisher] … features graphic adaptions of WW1 poems, including my 10-page adaption with David Hitchcock of Dead Man’s Dump [by Isaac Rosenberg],” Mr Mills told me. “Amazing art!”

You can see some of the art above – albeit only the book’s cover. The other poems are:

All the Hills and Vales Along, by Charles Sorley; adapted by Kevin Huizenga

Ancient History, by Siegfried Sassoon; adapted by Liesbeth De Stercke

At the Time of “The Breaking of the Nations,” by Thomas Hardy; adapted by Anders Nilsen

Break of Day in the Trenches, by Isaac Rosenberg; adapted by Sarah Glidden

Channel Firing, by Thomas Hardy; adapted by Luke Pearson

The Dancers, by Wilfred Wilson Gibson; adapted by Lilli Carre

Dulce et decorum est, Greater Love Hath No Man and Soldier’s Dream, by Wilfred Owen; adapted by George Pratt

The End, by Wilfred Owen; adapted by Danica Novgorodoff

Everyone Sang, by Siegfried Sassoon, and Therefore is the Name of It Called Babel, by Osbert Sitwell; adapted by Isabel Greenberg

The General, by Siegfried Sasson; adapted by Garth Ennis and Phil Winslade

Selections from The Great Push, by Patrick MacGill; adapted by Eddie Campbell

I Don’t Want to Be a Soldier, Sing Me to Sleep Where Bullets Fall and When This Bloody War Is Over; soldiers’ songs adapted by Hunt Emerson

I looked up from my work, by Thomas Hardy; adapted by Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen

The Immortals by Isaac Rosenberg; adapted by Peter Kuper

Lamentations: The Coward, by Rudyard Kipling; adapted by Stephen R. Bissette

Next War, by Osbert Sitwell; adapted by Simon Gane

Peace, by Rupert Brooke; adapted by Simon Gane

A Private, by Edward Thomas, and The Question, by Wilfred Wilson Gibson; adapted by Hannah Berry

Repression of War Experience, by Siegfried Sassoon; adapted by James Lloyd

Two Fusiliers, by Robert Graves; adapted by Carol Tyler

War, by Francis Edward Ledwidge; adapted by Sammy Harkham.

Above the Dreamless Dead will be released on September 23, almost exactly 100 years after the outbreak of the hostilities that inspired its authors. First Second books can be found on the web here.

That’s not all. Pat Mills told me of another project that could leave Mr Gove frothing with jingoistic fury.

The Beast mentioned in his article yesterday that Mr Mills produced, with the late Joe Colquhoun providing the art, what’s been hailed as probably the best British war comic ever: Charley’s War. This meticulously-researched, dedicatedly pacifist story ran from 1979 to 1985 in the British weekly Battle and has now been adapted into a series of collections from Titan Books.

Now, the writer has a new project – “in Charley’s War genre” – entitled Brothers in Arms. Illustrated by his Above the Dreamless Dead collaborator David Hitchcock, the piece is currently in search of a publisher. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long for it to find a home.

Comics. They might be fun for kids – but they’ll also teach Michael Gove not to mess with history.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Landale’s Iffy poem – the BBC responds!

BBC-Logo“Dear Mr Sivier,

“Thank you for your email. Can you give me more detail about what it was about this item that was specifically biased – or sycophantic or offensive?

“The piece by James Landale was intended to highlight one of the key aspects of the EU referendum issue: it hangs on all awful lot of “if”s. There’ll be a referendum if the Conservatives can win the next general election, if the bill enabling it is passed, if the party can unite around what to renegotiate, if the other EU countries accept those demands, etc.

“The Kipling poem seemed a natural vehicle to point up those various hurdles. There was certainly no intention to use it to make a biased political comment – and I confess I’m at a loss to see how it does?

“But get back to me re the particular concerns and I’ll happily look into it further.


“Gavin Allen

“Editor, BBC Political News”

Apparently it hasn’t occurred to Messrs Landale or Allen that the use of that poem as a model implies approval of all of the actions or events it envisages, and the hope that they come true: “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,” as the original runs.

It implies that Mr Cameron’s attitudes to, and policies on, jobs and growth are correct and deserve to be heeded. Yes, it says “if” his party stops talking about other things, but the underlying implication is that they should, and what he says will be right. Many of us see no evidence of this in his actions to date.

“This is a real attempt to reform the EU” the poem states. People will see that as the message, never mind whether there’s an “if” attached.

“If you can get the votes you need in 2015” – in other words, not only does the writer really want him to, but people should vote Conservative in 2015, if they want to have a say in the UK’s membership of the EU (and never mind whether the debate should be framed in those terms or not. Those of us who keep our eyes and ears open know the right-wing media will be determined to get us out, even though it will be very bad for our businesses).

“If you can… keep us in the EU” – implying it will be a great feat of Mr Cameron’s to have kept us in? In fact, he’ll have created a situation and then restored the status quo, and there’s nothing deserving praise in that.

“Walk with Europe’s kings, nor lose the Commons touch” – implying that Mr Cameron is a great statesman, worthy of a place among the highest? We don’t all think that! As for his Commons touch – the wording implies the House of Commons, where every week, in Prime Minister’s Questions, he comes across as a schoolyard bully who can hardly answer a single question that is put to him – and when he does, the factcheckers have to provide correct answers later because his own words are, let’s say, economical with the truth! (There was one today about food banks – Mr Cameron poured scorn on Labour for allowing use of food banks to go up tenfold while that party was in power. This was true, but he was only telling part of the story. Under Labour, use of food banks rose to 40,000 over a six-year period; in the past 2.5 years, under the Coalition, it has risen by a further 88,000 (to 128,000) and is forecast to hit 250,000 by the end of 2013.

“If you can… genuinely settle the European question” implies that he can.

“If you can keep the British people onside” implies that they are onside at the moment.

“Yours is the next election” implies that he’ll win.

These aren’t the only questionable parts – it’s all in extremely poor taste, really, isn’t it? But that’s what I’m considering sending back in response. Does anyone think I’ve missed anything important? Or do I go too far? Or is Mr Allen right and I’m barking up the wrong tree?

I am a news reporter by trade and, while I make my political opinions known on this blog, I would never allow anything like Mr Landale’s poem onto the pages of one of my newspapers (or news websites). I find it unacceptable that the BBC believes it is appropriate and I think that Mr Allen should refer the matter to his own superiors.

BBC – Bleedin’ Biased Conservatives?

Rudyard Kipling, earlier today. Oh no, it's just some BBC/Tory reporter-goon who thinks ruining a terrific poem in tribute to a lousy politician is a good idea.

Rudyard Kipling, earlier today. Oh no, it’s just some BBC/Tory reporter-goon who thinks ruining a terrific poem in tribute to a lousy politician is a good idea.

The BBC desperately needs to get some balance back into its political coverage.

I’ve just had to use the Corporation’s complaint form, after reading James Landale’s ill-advised attempt to give homage to David Cameron for the comedy Prime Minister’s speech on Europe, delivered today after much delay and to little effect.

You can read Landale’s piece here, if you really want to. Fans of Rudyard Kipling – or of poetry in general – would be well-advised to skip it.

Here’s what I said:

James Landale’s blog entry, cannibalising Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If…’ to render sycophantic praise to David Cameron over his EU speech does not belong on a website belonging to a public service broadcaster that claims to be unbiased.

It is offensive, not only to those of us who find Mr Cameron odious in the extreme and his policies inept and opportunist, but also to those of us who enjoy good poetry and Kipling in particular.

Is the BBC announcing an intention to become a minority-interest broadcaster, serving the purposes of the Conservatives? If so, will I and the other 60-odd per cent of the UK who don’t support that particular gang be receiving licence fee rebates?

If not, I suggest you remove this offensive article and apologise for ever allowing it to go up in the first place.

I know you’ve been saddled with a Tory as chairman of the board but let’s have some balance in your reporting, please. You are making yourselves look ridiculous.

Fair enough?