When DestroyTheCyborg! editor Mike asked who would like to review Wayne Vansant’s Bombing Nazi Germany, I immediately responded that I would love the opportunity to read and review this graphic novel. NOT that I’m a WWII geek or historian nor do I love all things airplanes, but rather because I’m always interested in how graphic works can be used in education, specifically higher education. I thought this might be a text that would work well in a college history course. My reactions to the text are conflicted.

Let’s start with the positive. I can safely say that anyone who is a WWII, history, or airplane buff would really enjoy this graphic novel and will want it in their collection. It is full of facts on how the air battles helped win the war for America the United Kingdom and their allies. If you get confused about the different planes while you are reading, you can flip to the appendix in the back where Vansant list the U.S., British, and German aircrafts. For each plane he gives the “powerplant”, “wingspan”, “length”, “gross weight”, “range”, maximum speed”, “armament”, and usually “crew” statistics.

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As for the graphic novel (which we’ll discuss in a moment), it is divided into 13 chapters and follows the history of how planes were used in WWII in a chronological fashion. The images are clean and specific, showing marvelous details about the planes. Vansant includes several full-page images as shown above. The text appears to be hanging in the sky on top while it’s contained in narrative boxes at the bottom, which are a bit disruptive with the rest of the image. The text is also full of action, showing air battles between the warring factions. But there are some issues with this book.

While Bombing Nazi Germany is a fascinating read, it is NOT a graphic novel. When answering the question of what are comics, Dennis O’Neil conveys in his book The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics that “they are not a collection of words and images printed on the same page. (That’s what illustrated books are.)

To be a comic book [graphic novel], those words and images must work together as parts of speech work together in a normal English sentence” (12). I’m afraid that Vansant’s book fails in this respect. It’s full of words with images added–see the image below. Even dialogue is not included in speech bubbles, but is simply integrated into the blocks of text. Narrative boxes as seen on the left are inserted here and there with no method to the placement. Sometimes the narrative boxes are done in green, sometimes in red, sometimes in blue, but these colors do not seem to have a purpose either. I came to the conclusion that narrative boxes were used on images when Vansant ran out of room for block text. For me, the book fails because of this. It is NOT a graphic novel, but rather an illustrated text, heavy on the text.BNG_Img

Because I love comics, because I love graphic novels, I would not use this book in a course. I would be concerned that my disclaimers about the text NOT being a graphic novel would go unheard or unheeded, thereby giving the students the wrong idea about comics in general. Another issue is that there are times that the writing gets really confusing and the images do not always help alleviate that confusion.

I did, however, enjoy reading the book, and learned quite a bit about WWII and how planes influenced the outcome of the war. Again, if you are a WWII, history, or plane enthusiast, you’ll enjoy this illustrated story.

Bombing Nazi Germany can be purchased at your Local Comic Shop or Amazon.

Overall Score
75 %

Wayne Vansant's illustrated book details how the use of airplanes in WWII helped America, Britain, and their allies win the war.

Writing 50%
Illustrations 90%
Color 90%

About The Author

My name is Dianna, and I hail from the land of the lakes, aka Michigan. My full time job has me running a writing center, teaching writing classes (hopefully soon teaching a comics course), and doing all sorts of techy things, since that’s what I did in a previous life.

At this point in my life, comics are both my passion and my research. I am lucky in that I get to combine my passion into my everyday work. But here at Destroy the Cyborg I get to have fun and chat about what I'm reading. Feel free to chime in on my post, even if it's to tell my how dead wrong I got something.

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