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I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB

Jacques Tardi | Translated by Jenna Allen

In September 1939, René Tardi went to war. Less than a year later, the French army was defeated and he was a prisoner of war, like 1.6 million other French soldiers. After 4 years and 8 months in a POW camp, René returned home, bitter and ashamed. Stalag IIB is Jacques Tardi’s homage to his father and a testimony to the silent suffering of a generation of men.

Based on René’s memories, Stalag IIB — the first of two volumes — recounts brutal years of captivity under the Nazis and the POWs’ attempts to reclaim moments of humanity. René recalls the roll calls in sub-zero temperatures, daily acts of resistance, crushing boredom — and especially the omnipresent hunger.

With four decades of cartooning and almost two dozen graphic novels behind him, Jacques Tardi masterfully recreates historical and personal details with remarkable fidelity, guided by extensive research and his father’s notes. Featuring some of Tardi’s most intense and meticulous drawing, punctuated by somber greys and punches of red and blue rendered beautifully by Rachel Tardi, Stalag IIB is a personal and artistic triumph.

Jacques Tardi, one of the defining cartoonists of his generation, was born in Valence, France, in 1946. Tardi got his start in cartooning in 1969 with a series of short stories for Pilote magazine and soon graduated to graphic novels. Over Tardi’s decades-long cartooning career, he’s created many graphic novels—lighthearted adventure tales, harrowing and humanizing stories about the two World Wars, a long run of detective and crime thrillers (five of which star Léo Malet’s Paris-based private eye Nestor Burma)—masterpieces all. His turn-of-the-century serial The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec was adapted into film by Luc Besson in 2010, and April and the Extraordinary World, a French-Belgian-Canadian animated film based on his work, was released in 2015. Tardi has been recognized by the comics community for his impressive oeuvre and influence on the form. He has received many awards from the Angoulême International Comics Festival, including the Grand Prix in 1985. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2016.


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