by Sam Glanzman
I know that Sam Glanzman's memoir of his wartime service, A Sailor's Story, has just been republished in a new edition, but I came across the original Marvel version not all that long ago, and decided that I wanted to read it in its original form.
Glanzman is a known writer and artist of war comics, but I'm not sure that he did more than two books about his own life. This graphic novel opens on the very young Sam, an orphan and alone at seventeen save for a beloved dog, signing up to go to war. He ends up in the Navy, and spends the entire war on boats in the Pacific.
He gives us a very day-to-day view of the drudgery and boredom of military service, as he chips and paints metal, hides from a superior to avoid work, and gets bizarre beer drinking vacations on rowboats.
While Glanzman is very open about many aspects of his service, he never really develops into a fully-realized character. We see him react to things, but only rarely get a sense of his interior life. He takes a scholarly approach to the slang and customs of the military, but none of the characters, aside from one crewman who loses his marbles, stand out on the page.
I like the draftsman's quality of Glanzman's art, which is very focused on little details. This is a valuable example of war comics, and I'm pleased to see that it's being put back out into circulation.