Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Omaha Beach on D-Day

This book is a unique one, an auspicious beginning of a series of books that are part graphic novel, part photo-essays, and part historical commentary about great moments of World War II. Omaha Beach on D-Day focuses on the life and work of Robert Capa, whose internationally famous photos of the June 6, 1944 battle captured the horror and brutality of war in an intimate way. Amazingly, he lost many of those photos due to wear and tear in the ocean as well as a chemical accident during development, but the ones that survived made quite an impact. Here, we see how he prepared for that day when he bravely rode in with the troops on a seafaring transport.
Capa's photos were the inspiration for the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, and the war sequences in this book are equally harrowing. The rest of the tale depicted here is fascinating, though, and I was very taken with its attention to detail and historicity. Following the comics story is a gallery of his WWII pictures, and following those were a series of articles about Capa's life, career, artistry, and technical take on photography. I found myself fascinated by the entire package, and I love how the whole work coalesced into a pretty complete reading experience.

Writers Jean-David Morvan and Séverine Tréfouel collaborated with artist Dominique Bertail to create the comics in this book. Morvan is an award winning writer for his work on youth comics, and he and Tréfouel  also write a comic series called Ocelot. Bertail is a prolific illustrator who has been making comics for two decades.

I was not able to find many reviews for this book, but the ones I read were glowing. The reviewer at Coverless Review simply stated that "Writer, Jean-David Morvan and artist Séverine Tréfouel do an amazing job with this book." Kelly Fineman summed up, "This book, through its combined story-telling methodologies, makes these images accessible today in a powerful and gripping way." And I agree with Nick Smith who wrote, "This book will appeal to fans of serious graphic non-fiction, but also to World War II buffs and students of photography."

Omaha Beach on D-Day was published by First Second in collaboration with Magnum Photos, and they have a preview and much more available here.

Thank you, Gina, for the review copy!


  1. Interesting article. The formatting you mention reflects an earlier discussion with a student. We are working on a collective volume of stories which will have different 'textures'. A variety of styles and imagery with stories. Too bad a few of the links are blocked here (at school). Thanks for posting.

  2. You're very welcome! We need to catch up soon, and I am planning on bringing the wee one to Marble City on Saturday. Will you be there, too? I hope so!