Comic Dossier

One day at the Somme

Sacco DER ERSTE WELTKRIEG – 1. Juli 1916: Die Schlacht an der Somme, © Edition Moderne 2014
Sacco DER ERSTE WELTKRIEG – 1. Juli 1916: Die Schlacht an der Somme, © Edition Moderne 2014
Scene from “The Great War – July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme”


The American illustrator Joe Sacco is considered to be the creator of the comics reportage. With his books on crisis regions he regularly causes controversial debates. His new work “The Great War – July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme” was published recently.

Since the early 1990s, he has published several books on crisis regions – including Palestine, Footnotes in Gaza, and War's End: Profiles from Bosnia, 1995-1996 – that have again and again caused controversial debate. To mark the centenary of the First World War, Sacco has created a 24-foot-long fan-folded book – a book-style fresco, as it were – reconstructing the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Some 20,000 soldiers died on July 1, 1916. The battle, which lasted until November 18, 1916, is considered to be the deadliest of the entire war, costing the lives of 700,000 soldiers on the German side and of more than 400,000 soldiers on the Allied side. Joe Sacco aptly talks of “hell on earth”. Stretched to nearly 500 feet, the drawings can also be viewed on the walls of the Montparnasse metro station in Paris, thus serving as a sequential monument.

Lorenz Wesemann
studied literature and history. He lives and works as a freelance writer in Offenbach am Main.

Translated by Manuela Thurner

Copyright: Goethe-Institut e.V.
December 2014

Any questions about this article? Please write to us!
internet-redaktion@goethe.de

    PARADOXES: Back to Overview >>

    Joe Sacco

    was born in Malta in 1960. After early work as a cartoonist, he created the form of  the comics reportage in the early 1990s with his works on the West Bank. Thinking of himself as a graphic journalist, he has published widely on political topics. He received the Eisner Award in 2001.