Sam Glanzman is a name synonymous with the Golden Age of comic books; he was there when the industry was finding its feet and was one of its earliest contributors. Largely known for the war-themed pieces he contributed to DC Comics in the 1970s and 1980s, A Sailor’s Story is a graphic novel piece comprised of two stories released in 1987 and 1989 by Marvel Comics, drawinig on Glanzman’s own experiences of serving on the US navy destroyer, the USS Stevens. So what are modern readers getting from this reissue of both stories?
First and foremost, A Sailor’s Story is a very personal account of the war era. Glanzman’s story chronicles his life before and after his involvement in the conflict of 1939-1945, most of the action takes place aboard the destroyer which not only paints a vivid picture of the life that took place aboard the vessel, but also shows how significant this event was in Glanzman’s life; details of his civilian life are kept very brief in order to demonstrate this point. This does not go unnoticed by the reader.
Meanwhile, the artwork in A Sailor’s Story is also of significance. It harks back very much to the Golden Age of comics in terms of its colouring, its design work and its script (Glanzman refrains from actually writing swear words where they are used which only seems proper for such a unique project). Having said that, Glanzman doesn’t hold back from using images of death and destruction, none of which feel out of place because of the subject matter.
To sum up A Sailor’s Story, the accompanying tributes for Sam Glanzman provide just how important he has been to the comics industry, and by extension, why this work is both wonderful and significant in the medium of comics. When the likes of Denny O’Neill, Chuck Dixon and even Stan Lee offer tributes to the same man, you can see that Glanzman’s attention to narrative, to design and how they work together on the page to create a very personal account of a world event have influenced the evolution of comics altogether. This reissue helps to re-evaluate Glanzman’s significance in the comic community and how it will be remembered for many more years to come.
A SAILOR’S STORY / WRITER & ARTIST: SAM GLANZMAN / PUBLISHER: DOVER COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW