AHRC Comics and the World Wars

A cultural record

Principal Investigator: Prof. Jane Chapman
Research Assistant: Anna Hoyles
Research Consultant: Dan Ellin
PhD students: Adam Sherif and Andrew Kerr
Project consultant: Dr Kent Worcester

Arts and Humanities Research Council Funded Project


With the centenary of 1914-18 upon us, as well as the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2, these epic events are receiving a high public profile worldwide. This timely project therefore asks the question: what is the contribution of the comic form to the cultural heritage of these global experiences & what different kinds of historical meaning emerge?

The project research & the two major exhibitions that go with it – one on World War One comics in 2014 & one on Second World War comics in 2015, both at London’s Cartoon Museum- emphasise to the heritage industry the potential of comics as a cultural artefact.

A few days rest in billets cropped 2

Courtesy of Cambridge University Library

Research areas include:

  • Trench publications – soldiers’ own amateur newspapers featuring day to day life on the front line.
  • Daily Mirror newspaper strips depicting WW1 home front concerns
  • WW1 labour movement newspapers from the US, Australia and New Zealand
  • Australian and American newspaper strips depicting the changing role of women during the world wars
  • Comics published for US troops during WW2 featuring graphic violence
  • US Golden Age comic books
  • Daily Worker newspaper strips giving the British Communist Party’s view on WW2.
  • Graphic novels depicting the trauma experienced by Holocaust and Hiroshima survivors.

FWW soldier smoking pipe