by Scott Mills
(Top Shelf, 2002)
David and Lloyd Allenby didn't always get along as children, nor do they as adults. David, the rowdy, worldly older of the two, is sometimes quite cruel to his younger, more reserved sibling. As both are called up to serve their country during World War I, however, they snipe, argue, fight and insult one another while, at the same time, gaining a newfound respect for each other. It's all in Scott Mills' sometimes tense, sometimes tender, always entertaining period story, Trenches.
As comic entertainment goes, Mills hits a homerun with this book. His characters, though sometimes annoying or infuriating, possess a harm that will endear readers. Though it's easy to take up the cause of the more timid Lloyd, as he suffers embarrassment at the hands of his own kin, one may even find that the bully, David, is to be almost admired at times. This work speaks well of the good to be found in all people, even if it's not on the surface. It's always a plus if a writer can make people care about his characters; this one does so.
Mills' has a minimalist style of art in this book. Some panels appear almost unfinished, while the line work in others possesses a haphazard, even slightly obscuring quality. This is not to say it's not good work; it is, as it very much fits the story. It tends to capture the chaos of some of the more intense and violent war scenes, making them all the more believable, despite the "cartoony" appearance.
Mills also proves that an artist doesn't have to produce highly detailed work in order for the characters to be expressive. Trenches deftly displays anger, sadness, apprehension, heroism and more through its characters.