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War Comics



Comic strips and graphic novels form an accessible way of making wartime experiences perceptible. Sometimes comics were only read by their creators, or shared in small circles, but in the 20th and 21st century, mass publication has brought war comics to a wider audience. During and after WWII, successful examples appeared in series that rolled off the printing presses with high frequency in black and white or in full color. In countries that had experienced occupation and in countries whose participation in hostilities was more remote, such comics were produced or distributed, but even in (former) neutral countries readers could be found for these publications - as a separate book or as part of a magazine.

Comics are characterized by great variety, not only in the themes they highlight or in the style of the drawings and the interaction of image and text, but also in the perspectives adopted by the creators. In addition to comic strips that focus on military developments on the battlefield, there are also graphic novels that depict experiences of persecution. Whereas the former subject is usually sketched through the fates of fictional soldiers, the latter is often illustrated using authentic ego documents and interviews with survivors.


The NIOD ImageLab aims to shed light on how war comics are created, on their content, and on their reception by diverse readers in different contexts – in order to better understand the scope and impact of this popular form of visual culture. Zooming in on specific representations in comics in a comparative way offers the possibility of strengthening awareness of the evolving memory culture of mass violence.


Pop Culture and the Second World War:
Studying French War Comics

by Megan King

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