Brutally explicit visuals add immediacy to a serviceable but not exceptional historical overview.



From the Campfire History series

Graphic in both senses, a history of the War to End All Wars with a fictional overlay.

The narrative uses the experiences of British Tommy George Smith in the trenches to put a human face on the broader pictures of events in various theaters of the war. It opens with the almost-accidental assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, then goes on to tally land and sea battles, the exploits of T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and other iconic figures. It covers technological advances, from poison gas to tanks, and distinctive events like the Christmas Truce. George’s bitter judgments of “the generals” who ordered millions of “[y]oung lives thrown away for no real reason” accompany scene after scene of sodden, muddy misery, bullets blasting into soldiers’ bodies and fields strewn with corpses. The war behind the lines and at home is rarely seen, and though other participants occasionally step in for a few panels, the point of view is so Anglocentric that the German and even Russian sides merit barely a glance. Most of the casualty figures and other statistics are buried in the text, and though backmatter includes notes on a Croix de Guerre–winning homing pigeon and other animal “heroes,” there is no index or bibliography.

Brutally explicit visuals add immediacy to a serviceable but not exceptional historical overview. (maps, sheet music) (Graphic fiction/nonfiction hybrid. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-93-80741-85-7

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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An overstuffed patchwork.



A visual history of the game, from playfully imagined early precursors (“Overrunneth not the bag, Prudence!”) to 21st-century feats and follies.

Everything in baseball gets mythologized,” Irvine writes, and accordingly he dishes up scornful dismissals of Abner Doubleday, Babe Ruth’s “called shot,” and even the Cubbies’ “curse of the billy goat” in this overview. Still, he sometimes succumbs to the lure himself, as when he declares Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak “in all likelihood, the most improbable feat in the history of organized sports.” His minute tallies of the comings and goings of leagues and teams and stadiums down the years make arid reading, but even indifferent fans will find his profiles of colorful figures (particularly the “misfits and weirdos”) and their pithy comments (Mantle, on Koufax: “How the f*ck are you supposed to hit that sh*t?”) entertaining. Moreover, his frank acknowledgement of the sport’s racist past as well as worthy if sometimes tone-deaf nods to players in and from Japan and Latin American countries, to women, to Native Americans (in a box headed “Hail to the Chief”), and to select stars of the Negro Leagues add at least some depth to the historical picture. Unfortunately, the story is not shaped into a coherent narrative but presented in fragmentary bits, with many digressions and glances ahead. Shoehorning the text boxes and speech balloons into cramped black-and-white panels only adds to the general disorder.

An overstuffed patchwork. (glossary, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-57894-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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“Why did she want to help? Why could she not turn a blind eye to those in need?” A searching and reverent treatment.



From the Campfire Heroes series

Mother Teresa shines brightly both figuratively and literally in this graphic portrait of her life and mission.

Mother Teresa glows in a spotless white sari against jumbles of dim, run-down streets and impressionistically rendered inhabitants. Her slight, erect image anchors both the stately art and Helfand’s solemn account of her devotion to helping others, from childhood on. Mixing commentary with (invented but characteristic) dialogue, the author chronicles her compassionate works and, occasionally, captures just a hint of her strong personality too: “How much medicine do you need to purchase today, Mother Teresa?” a pharmacist asks. “Purchase? I thought you might want to do something beautiful for God.” Closing with her continuing progress toward formal sainthood and a spread of additional anecdotes, this account will leave readers deeply affected and perhaps even inspired by her profound devotion to the poor, ill and needy in India and the world.

“Why did she want to help? Why could she not turn a blind eye to those in need?” A searching and reverent treatment. (bibliography, foldout poster) (Graphic biography. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-93-80028-70-5

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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