Four-Fisted Tales

Animals in Combat

by Ben Towle

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Book Cover: Four-Fisted Tales
Editions:Paperback Original with French Flaps: $ 24.95
ISBN: 978-1-68247-416-7
Size: 6.75 x 9.50 in
Pages: 120

In virtually every military conflict in recorded history animals have fought—and often died—alongside their human counterparts. While countless stories of the men and women who’ve served in the trenches, jungles, and deserts of the world’s battlefields have been told, Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat shares the stories of the animals who fought alongside them.

From Hannibal’s elephants in ancient Rome to mine-sniffing rats in Vietnam and everything in between, Four-Fisted Tales highlights the real-life contributions of these underappreciated animal warriors. Whether in active combat or simply as companions, these animals served and made their mark on history.

—2022 Eisner Award Nominee - Best Publication for Kids

—Foreword Reviews 2021 INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist

Reviews:—Publishers Weekly wrote:

“Possibly the first military history that could be described as adorable, this episodic graphic novel from Towle recounts the animal cohorts of human warfare…. Towle’s rigorously detailed art evokes the kind of spot illustrations found in old-school children’s encyclopedias. (Even the pagination is shadowed with paw prints.).... This undeniably captivating book is nearly too cute for its own good.”

—Foreword Reviews wrote:

Four-Fisted Tales is a stellar graphic history whose art is exemplary, capturing action, humor, and poignancy alike.”

—School Library Journal wrote:

“Towle does beautiful work in a monochrome olive that suggests combat in more ways than one. Beyond the typical association of the color with the army, the muted tones provide shadow and depth in keeping with the risk of death involved in battle. He draws both animals and people extraordinarily well, capturing their movement and motivations…. The stories are about sacrifice and determination. It’s an effective introduction to a great variety of military battles over history.”

—The Fandom Post wrote:

“An engaging comic book that is educational! And just because it’s fact-based and in graphic format, don’t assume it’s just for kids (although it is perfect for a middle school library). As an adult who has been reading a lot of military history and military historical fiction lately, I found it fascinating, and animal enthusiasts will likely find the content interesting and inspiring as well.”

—GeekDad wrote:

“Ben Towle’s writing and illustrations provide a great medium for honoring the roles of animals throughout military history…. Whether you are interested in military history, animals, or just enjoy interesting anecdotes, I recommend Four-Fisted Tales. I not only enjoyed reading it, I learned much and gained a greater appreciation for the relationships between humans and animals forged in the crucible of conflict.”

—ArcadiaPod wrote:

“This is a great book for pet lovers, fans of history, kids, or even just comic fans. So curl up with your favorite fur-baby and check out Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat – and while your dog may not be as cool as Jack, you can assure yourself that if something bad were to go down, I’m sure they would heed the call and protect you at all costs. Animals, the real unsung heroes of the war.”

—Forces of Geek wrote:

“Whether you’re a fan of history, animals, or just enjoy some great artwork, I’d recommend giving this book a read. 5 out of 5 stars.”

—World of Tau wrote:

Four-Fisted Tales is definitely a book that will appeal to lots of readers. Not only because of the attractive graphic novel format, but also because of the many interesting facts evoked throughout the book. As such it would also be perfect to use at school, covering different time periods, geographical places, interesting animal trivia, and much more.”

—The Stop Button wrote:

Four-Fisted Tales is an excellent comic; accessible, even, and exquisite.”

—Popanimecomics wrote:

Four-Fisted Friends: Animals in Combat captures the heroic efforts that animals performed during wartime that saved lives and changed the outcome of battles and wars…. With each story, we begin to understand the importance of animals and how they have collaborated with soldiers during warfare. The graphic novel, much like the Animals in War Memorial, serves as a reminder that throughout history animals have fought next to humans and should be recognized for their service. Many wars would have been far bloodier and brutal without them beside us.”

—John's Notes wrote:

Four-Fisted Tales is well drawn and full of enjoyable short stories.”

—SOLRAD wrote:

“In Four-Fisted Tales, Towle tells stories that are cruel and absurd as well as frequently funny and even inspiring, and it’s important to acknowledge that it’s all part of the war experience.”

—Jeff Smith, writer and illustrator of Bone wrote:

Four-Fisted Tales brings you animal stories you had no idea you needed! From time immemorial to the Gulf War and beyond, each animal, each story makes you say, What? No way! All brought to vivid life by the artistry of Ben Towle!”

—David Backhouse, designer and sculptor of the Animals In War monument, Park Lane, London wrote:

“They had no choice and sadly neither did the majority of the men who fought. Despite the battle being a human one we would have known no victory without the support of the animals.”

—Midu Reads wrote:

“Recommending this book for anyone who’d like a short info-packed read about animals-in-war.”

—Graphic Novel Resources wrote:

Four-Fisted Tales is a highly entertaining and informative book…. What really makes these tales work is the masterful artwork that portrays various species not only with accuracy but also feeling, as well as detailed depictions of vehicles, buildings, landscapes, and other realistic features that make the environs of each panel live and breathe. Consequently, Four-Fisted Tales invites multiple re-readings, as it is easy to breeze through the whole book due to its fascinating subject matter and clear storytelling, but it also features intricate artwork that can be pored over again and again. Additionally, the war stories are compelling in and of themselves, without sugar-coating so even the more whimsical tales remind readers of the grim realities of battle.”

About the Contributor

Ben Towle is a four-time Eisner-nominated cartoonist. His previous works include Oyster War; Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean (with Sarah Stewart Taylor), which received accolades from The New York Times and Publishers Weekly and was a Junior Library Guild selection; Midnight Sun; and Farewell, Georgia. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, and is a professor of illustration at The Columbus College of Art and Design.