Available September 2019
Stalingrad. From August 1942 to February 1943 this model industrial city, bathed by the waters of the Volga, was home to the bloodiest battle of World War II. Stalingrad: Letters from the Volga offers a fast-paced depiction of this titanic struggle: explicit, crude, and without concessions—just as the war and the memory of all those involved demands.
The battle rendered devastating results. Almost two million human beings were marked forever in its crosshairs, a frightening figure comprised of the dead, injured, sick, captured, and missing. Military and civilians alike paid with their lives for the personal fight between Stalin and Hitler, which materialized in long months of primitive conflict among the smoking ruins of Stalingrad and its surroundings.
Stalingrad: Letters from the Volga presents the battle, beginning to end, through the eyes of Russian and German soldiers. Take a chronological tour of the massacre, relive the fights, and feel the drama of trying to survive in a relentless hell of ice and snow.
Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics wrote:
“WWII’s largest and bloodiest battle gets recounted in this gory and densely researched work of graphic nonfiction. In 1942, the German army’s initially successful assault into Russia grinds to a halt. As winter approaches, Soviet and Nazi armies face off around the city of Stalingrad, where more than two million souls will endure a freezing crucible. Gil and Ortega ostensibly structure their narrative around a band of beleaguered German soldiers trying to snuff out the stubborn ‘Ivans.’ But with the exception of back-home letters mixing grandiloquent phrasing (‘fire-tongued assassins rip through the sky’) with plaintive hopelessness (‘beaten in a sea of ruins, the Red Army does not surrender’), they opt for historical details over personalization. Many famous aspects of the battle are highlighted, from the Soviet snipers to the ‘night witches’ flying stealthily overhead in their biplanes, and the underground horror of the Rattenkrieg (war of rats). The narrative frequently pulls back from the punishingly savage combat in Stalingrad’s frozen hell for a bird’s-eye view of the wider battle ripping across the eastern front. The art emphasizes action over storytelling, leaving it mostly to the overheated yet accurate text to describe the battle’s epic horrors. This relentless account provides a devastatingly grim vision of a pivotal WWII battle.”
“Whether illuminating anguished faces in cellar hideouts or pieces of bodies strewn in the snow, Gil’s illustrations are as mesmerizing as they are devastating…. Antonio Gil and Daniel Ortega have created a sobering exploration of ... depravity and despair in these pages that remind the reader how easily we are pitted against each other and how fragile human civilization is.”
“The authors provide a unique walk through the battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest urban battle fought by two major armies in history…. The book is unusual in that the authors use drawings to guide the reader through the experience and provide a sense of immediacy within the conflict as well. They provide an innovative way to provide immersion for the reader similar to a film or an animated tale. The experience is a powerful one and I highly recommend acquiring the book and immersing yourself in the experience.”
Sequential Tart wrote:
“Immersed in black, Stalingrad’s book design asserts a heaviness that puts you in the right state of mind for this story. Gil and Ortega’s account is extremely well-researched. Each chapter begins with a page of text, providing context for the fighting ahead…. What this book does well is get across how sudden death can be. Stalingrad has a notorious reputation, but it takes a graphic novel like Gil and Ortega’s to understand what the conditions were like and to let it sink in in a way that reverberates.”
“A very well written and super informative wall of text…. This gets my vote to check out, especially if you are a World War II buff…. A fascinating (and depressing) window into what happened at Stalingrad.”