Tuesday, 13 March 2012
On Soldiers Who Kill Civilians: Robert Kanigher & Joe Kubert's "Head Count"
I'd always intended to write about Head Count, Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert's fiercely principled response to the My Lai Massacre, in this week's The Year In Comics. It's the 44th anniversary of the Massacre this week, and Kanigher and Kubert's brave and committed Sgt Rock tale - from June 1971's Our Army At War - remains a passionate restatement of the soldier's responsibilities towards civilians. There's something deeply poignant not just about the morality which Head Count discusses, but also about the fact that both creators were veterans of World War II commenting upon the horrors of the Vietnam War. Yet what I of course couldn't know when I was writing about Head Count was that the posting of my thoughts about it on the Sequart site would coincide with the terrible news of the recent massacre of 16 women and children by a lone US Army sergeant in Afghanistan. I'd hate for anyone to think that I was using Kanigher and Kubert's work as a way of commenting upon the specifics of this particular tragedy, and so I'd like to assure anyone who chances upon either this page or the content at Sequart that the piece was written and posted days before the facts of the appalling situation in Kandahar broke.
Does Head Count have something to offer the debate about what has happened in Kandahar? In the broadest sense, I believe it does. But I wasn't trying to present any such an argument. I really don't think, with so much still unknown, that this would be the time to do so in such a form anyway.. If nothing else, it would be disrespectful to Kanigher and Kubert's fine, fine work to attempt to do so. Head Count deserves to be considered in the context of its day, and that's what I've tried my very best to do. I hope you might consider popping over to Sequart and reading the piece.