THE OTHER SIDE in the Chicago Tribune

Modern war comics take genre to whole new level

By Web Behrens
Special to the Tribune
Published November 5, 2006

Visions of mutilated dead soldiers appear to a young recruit in boot camp. Bombs rain down on Baghdad, setting loose its zoo's inhabitants. Or -- most chilling of all -- two hijacked passenger planes explode into their twin targets one fateful September morning, announcing a frightening new world order to a heretofore ignorant citizenry.

Each of these stunning visuals can be found on bookshelves and spinner racks this autumn, as graphic novels and comic books rediscover the power of war stories. "The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation" (published by Hill and Wang) led the pack in September, translating the bipartisan 9/11 Commission's text into 128 illustrated pages. Soon thereafter, Vertigo Comics released two powerful works: "Pride of Baghdad" is a gorgeous graphic novel that traces the fate of four lions in Iraq's capital after a U.S. bombing raid frees them from their cages; and "The Other Side," a five-issue monthly miniseries (the second issue comes out Nov. 1), takes an unconventional look at another controversial conflict, the Vietnam War.

"Other Side" artist Cameron Stewart says about this resurgent theme: "We are living in a time of war, so it could definitely be a zeitgeist thing."

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