The Bluecoats No 16: Sallie

By Lambil and CauvinA dog bites an enemy soldier as two American Civil War soldiers close in
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781800440890

Cinebook has been translating the Bluecoats series in steady succession for some years now. For older Brits, more accustomed to the likes of Asterix, a cartoon-rendering of the American Civil War might seem like a strange juxtaposition. But if you’ve cast a broader net on European comics you’d no doubt be happy enough to give it a whirl. 

The Bluecoats appeal lies in a subtle blending of realism and cartoon buffoonery. The soldiers are hardened by war but not exempt from the failures and foibles of human personality. Consequently, whereas Obelix might knock a legionary into the middle of next week in slapstick fashion, The Bluecoats isn’t afraid to show the real effects of war. It may avoid showing the blood, but it does deal with the death and injury.

Using nuggets of history both significant and small to frame the stories around, the creators show events through the eyes of Corporal Blutch and Sargeant Chesterfield. In this story, Blutch is mocked by Chesterfield for taking care of, and being attached to, his horse. For Chesterfield, this is just foolish. But his tune begins to change when a dog that has been taken on by the army becomes attached to him. When he’s sent on a dangerous mission to kidnap an enemy soldier, Chesterfield finds he doesn’t just have Blutch in tow, but Sallie the dog too.

The inspiration for Sallie is drawn from a monument at Gettysburg that features a soldier at its top, and a dog near its base. Regardless of rank or species, it all goes to show how indiscriminate the battlefield can be. Confident in their readership, Lambil and Cauvin confront this harsh reality head-on, making this, once again, one of the best series out there for both kids and adults alike.

And if you liked that: The rest of the series is worth checking out for its beguiling mix of humour and history.

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