-Set during the First World War on the Western Front, the four stories of “All Blood Runs Red“ are an homage to all the “little soldiers”, the millions of ordinary men who fulfilled their patriotic duty, unprepared for the horror unleashed upon them by their leaders.
Book one – The Good Son
Featuring 185 stunning photographs of small scale figurines placed in miniature sets, the [photo]graphic novel ‘All Blood Runs Red – The Good Son’ is the first of four stories in this epic visual re-imagining of World War One.
Northern France – 26th December 1914. In a barn in a small hamlet behind the french front line, we encounter Pierre Dubois, accused of desertion and awaiting judgement. We sit with him through a long and emotionally charged night as his mind wanders over the excitement and optimism of first few months of the war and its terrible descent into chaos and carnage. He examines friendships, family, duty and God and we discover the reason for his desertion before going with him to meet his fate.
This story is an evocation of the ‘war in red pants’ – symbols of the cruel optimism of a war which was meant to be over by Christmas.
Book two – The Hunter
Jacques Auber is a French soldier and interpreter whose war began when he was assigned to the firing squad that executed Pierre Dubois. We’ll follow him into the trenches at a time when nature still rules the landscape of war.
A deadly game of cat and mouse ensues as we dig in with Jacques, Roy Harper, a devoted English pigeoneer, and his nemesis Rainer Haug, a German hunter whose mission is to take down the messenger pigeons essential to communications between the French and English units.
The story begins…“In August 1915, as the birds chirruped in the trees and the grass grew and the weeds took hold, so the trenches became suffused with midges and butterflies, bees and spiders, all floating and crawling amongst a multitude of sweaty young men in uniform…”
Book three – The Artist
This story takes place between June 1916 and August 1917.
Trapped in a shell hole together, Rainer Haug and French soldier Paul Laroubine momentarily take refuge from the surrounding apocalypse by sharing their imaginary worlds. In a desperate attempt to remove themselves from the terrible reality surrounding them, Rainer has been obsessively carving tiny wooden figures while Paul has sketched everything.
Rainer’s war will not last much longer, but Paul will find himself injured and shellshocked in a military hospital where he encounters Eugene, a black American boxer. Paul and Eugene decide to join the Aeronautique Militaire – the newly formed French Airforce. After months of training Paul, the artist who makes a drawing every day for this wife and Eugene, the son of a black slave, obtain their pilot’s licence.
The 23rd of August 1917, the day of their first combat mission, is also the day when a new german prototype plane is tested in combat. A triplane flown by a certain Manfred von Richtofen…
Through the stories of Rainer, Paul and Eugene we discover the hell of Verdun and the rapid development of military aviation.
Book four – The Photographer
February 1918. This story begins in the sky with Eugene Bullard, aka The Black Swallow of Death – an american fighter pilot who is now part of the crack French squadron Spa-85.
Back at the airbase, a photographer is making an image of Eugene with his plane – a SPAD that bears the insignia of a red bleeding heart pierced by a knife with the inscription Tout sang qui coule est rouge (All Blood Runs Red).
The photographer is Jules Leiser – an Alsacian military doctor and humanist with a great eye. We follow him as as he roams the front looking for subjects of interest. He is captured by the Germans during their Spring offensive, is freed by the american “Doughboys”, meets again Eugene, and is witness to an amazing charge by tanks and horses combined. Through Jules’ adventures, his photos and the historical vignettes they recount, this final story will resume the four years of war and portray the beginnings of documentary photography, the industrialisation of the war, the arrival of the Americans and the complete exhaustion of the german forces during the last year of the war, 1918.
Eugene Bullard is the only real life character appearing in this series. He went on to live an extraordinary life until he died in 1961.
Paul Laroubine’s drawings that appear in books 2 and 3 are an homage to the work of artist/soldier Mathurin Maheut. The original drawings created for his story have been drawn in the style of Mathurin Maheut by Junona Balash, an artist from Moscow.
Jules Leiser, the main character of book 4 is loosely inspired by Frantz Adam, an Alsacian military doctor and amateur photographer.