First published on Facebook on 15 April 2011

A  graphic novel about one soldier’s return from Afghanistan

Story:  Rodge Glass  Art:  Dave Turbitt

Just been re-reading it and looking at the extras.  Very powerful ending.  The publisher credits Charley’s War as one of the inspirations and I’m delighted it helped make this book possible.  Frankly, Dougie’s War is the only new anti-war graphic novel out there and the only genuine successor to Charley’s War – apart from Steve Beeny’s Rebellion 1920 about the first British invasion of Iraq – when Churchill authorised poison gas to be dropped on the Kurds, just like Sadam Hussein.  (Of course when Sadam Husssein did it, it was evil. When Churchill did it,  it was  regrettable but okay.)

Anyway, back to Dougie’s War: it’s excellent and focuses in particular on post-traumatic stress disorder which is a fact of life for many vets.  There’s a section from Charley’s War printed with it, covering the same subject.  I’m delighted to recommend it.  Too many “War is Hell” films and comics masquerade as anti-war stories.  They’re not.  E.g. Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now were watched by US soldiers to psyche them up before they invaded Iraq.  No-one could read Charley’s War or Dougie’s War and want to invade anyone and that means they’ve done their job.

If you’ve come across any friends or relatives with PTSD, this book has particular relevance. There’s a help section at the back with phone numbers.

It’s embarrassing to admit that there are no other graphic novels about our modern colonisations  of other countries.  In comics, we usually stick to science fiction and men in tights.  Hopefully Dougie’s War might inspire others to write and draw something on the subject and expose what we’re really doing in the Middle East.


7 thoughts on “DOUGIE’S WAR

  1. Hi Pat. Michel Faber here.

    I’m interested in your comment about most “anti-war” narratives being no such thing, in that a genuine anti-war narrative would render the reader opposed to war under any circumstances, rather than merely taking a spineless “war-is-hell-but-sometimes-it’s-necessary-or-
    at-least-tragically-heroic” position.

    One film which I think is superb — and nowadays little-known and seldom seen, despite a director & stars who were famous in 1966 when it was made — is Richard Lester’s HOW I WON THE WAR. Have you seen this?

    Michael Crawford, the immensely irritating actor who later starred in the sitcom SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM, plays a clueless officer who causes the deaths of his working class footsoldiers. The film cuts right through Britain’s class obsessions and skewers the “war nostalgia” peddled by endless UK documentaries. There’s an extraordinary scene where one of the soldiers gets his leg blown off and his wife appears from nowhere, runs out to him on the battlefield and kneels down. “It hurts, mum”, he moans. She turns to the camera and addresses the viewer directly, launching into a solemnly compassionate scripted speech along the lines of “It is impossible to do justice to the bravery that (blah blah blah)…” The soldier repeats: “It hurts, mum”. Annoyed at having her spiel interrupted, she snaps back, “Oh, hold it under the cold tap.”

    The film got some terrible reviews when it came out, which remind me of the equally terrible reviews of Peter Watkins’ PRIVILEGE, another movie that has worn a great deal better than most of the adored & garlanded flicks that were made at the same time.

    • Very interesting points you make, Michael. I’d forgotten about How I Won The War. I’m so interested, i’ve just ordered it. It sounds quite important – and hence why Lennon is in it. I was around at the time and missed it. I vaguely recall people saying it was weird which wouldn’t have put me off. But I recall PRIVILEGE really well which I watched as a teenager with my best friend the night before he got done for driving offences (he was a boy racer) and got sent to a detention centre for three months. So PRIVILEGE meant a lot to me – as well as SCUM a few years later – because it was so anti-authority. I have all Peter Watkins films – I’m a big fan. Also of IT HAPPENED HERE which has a similar tone. A work of genius. How could those guys who made it be so talented so young? Astonishing! That was criticised because people said the British would never collaborate with the Nazis. I guess the Channel Islands don’t count.

      I’ll be curious to see other challenging attitudes to WW2 and your quote is very poignant. WW2 is still a sacred cow and I think there has been a deliberate attempt to cut out anything which challenges the holy, just war stuff. Today I came across an anti-war WW2 graffitti. iF you google WORLD WAR TWO GRAFFITI ELY CATHEDRAL it should come up. It appears to be authentic, but if so, it’s surprising how it’s never made the nationals. Actually it’s not surprising at all.

      If all this kind of thing is true (and I collect as many details as I can find), it suggests we’ve all been somewhat suckered. Certainly one of my relatives who was a serviceman in WW2 seemed to think so – but annoyingly he wouldn’t tell me why, which, of course, is the title of the servicemen’s song: We’ll Never Tell Them.

      I’m glad Dick Lester had a go at it! Good for him!

      • Hi Pat,

        Richard Lester’s anti-war credentials go beyond just HOW I WON THE WAR. He also directed THE BEDSITTING ROOM, a post-nuclear absurdist piece that baffled audiences when it was released in 1969. I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment. However, I have seen his 1976 movie ROBIN AND MARIAN, about Robin Hood (played by Sean Connery, in the first role where he was honestly shown bald and ageing). It’s a charming and poignant film, but what’s significant about it from an anti-war point of view is that it begins with Robin fighting for Richard The Lionheart in the Crusades. Richard is shown to be an utterly corrupt bastard and the Crusades are shown to be an exercise in imperialist genocide.

        Peter Watkins is indeed a major talent and his achievements at such a young age are, as you say, astonishing. Sometime in the 1980s, I attended a rare screening of EDVARD MUNCH at which Watkins conducted a Q&A. I have to say that he was rather stroppy and ungracious, especially considering that he was addressing an audience of people who respected him enormously. I got the impression that over the decades he had been subjected to so much shit from bureaucrats, reviewers, BBC bosses, etc, that he’d become bitter, weary and a bit paranoid. Maybe that’s the fate of many anti-establishment crusaders — in the end the system poisons their spirit.

        Your relative who wouldn’t talk about the war is no different from many other ex-servicemen. It’s as if these guys felt that if the people “back home” knew what had truly gone on, civilisation would be fatally harmed. As if disillusionment was some sort of disease that they didn’t want to pass on to the womenfolk and young ‘uns.

        Best wishes,


        (not “Michael”, by the way… Wikipedia will tell you more about me if you’re interested. And maybe some day I’ll tell you about the Judge Dredd script I wrote, which David Roach was keen to draw, but which the current editor of 2000 AD wasn’t interested in…)

      • Morning, Michel,

        Sorry I got your name wrong. Yes, Peter Watkins can be tough to watch sometimes. His Paris Commune was very difficult and I had to give up on it. I’m looking forward to checking out Dick Lester’s other films. A real Maverick.

        Re Dredd – it’s very tough to get one through. Many writers and just one weekly slot. I looked you up on Wiki – you did well getting an adaption on bbc2. Tough market to break into.



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