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Latest Book by UC Graphic Novelist Earns Top Spot on TIME.com List


UC graphic novelist Carol Tyler’s award-winning work has focused on the experiences of a World War II soldier veteran (her father). With the recent completion of her third graphic novel in a celebrated trilogy, she feels like a “creative arts veteran.”

Date: 1/18/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Carol Tyler

UC ingot   University of Cincinnati graphic novelist Carol Tyler, adjunct professor of fine arts, is serious about comics.
 
So much so that Tyler, who teaches courses in sequential art (comics), is recently out with her third graphic novel in a distinguished series that has brought her favorable reviews and coverage in "The New York Times," "The Los Angeles Times," and recently, top placement on a TIME.com list about "cosmic comics."
Cover of book



Graphic novels, like Tyler’s Latest “You’ll Never Know: Soldier’s Heart,” are “comics” that are grown-up, full-length books that deal with such subjects as mental illness and the Holocaust. Many graphic novels are considered to be literature, and one has even won a Pulitzer Prize. Museums now consider pages of comic art as fine art.

Tyler’s “You’ll Never Know” series, published by Fantagraphics Books, details her father’s World War II service in North Africa, Italy, France and Belgium where he fought at the Arno River and in the Battle of the Bulge. Woven throughout the books are tales of the lifelong effects felt and difficulties experienced by the Tyler family due to what is now commonly referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tyler, now the veteran of five graphic novels all told, has been working on her latest three-book series for eight years, longer than her father’s five-year service in W.W. II. The three-book “You’ll Never Know” series consists of:
  • "A Good and Decent Man" (2009)
  • "Collateral Damage" (2010) 
  • "Soldier’s Heart" (2012)
    Partial panel from
    Partial panel from "Soldier's Heart."


“I now see the books as one way of preserving a time and a place,” explains Tyler, adding, “My dad (Chuck Tyler, 93) was an everyman soldier, and the world he came of age in is gone. I wanted to anchor him in a time and a place and not have his experiences disappear.”

She continues, “His was a little voice among millions of voices, and I hope that some day, my contribution in recording his battles during and after the war will find their way in the World War II sections of libraries, along with the books that cover the Holocaust, women during the war, internment camps and the already recognized heroes.”

Throughout her trilogy, Tyler reflects on the war that was and its profound impact on the soldiers in it and the families they came home to or the ones they started after the war. And while that may seem like ancient history to the students in her classes, it’s work that has connected to a wide audience.
Partial panel from
Partial panel from "Soldier's Heart."



That’s in part because Tyler renders her father’s experiences and the effects of his wartime experiences on the family in detailed inks and subtle watercolors. The format of the book and the variety of page designs provides the effect of looking at a family album.

“My favorite experience is when readers who I don’t know send me feedback or a greeting on Facebook. They’re taking the trouble to find me and sharing their own family experiences,” she states, adding, “I’ve also loved presenting at graphic arts conventions and at the recent Military Writers Society of America conference.”

Both military veterans and their families can relate to Tyler’s work because she includes both a soldier’s view and that of his family in after years. She sets her father’s story within her own search to discover his past: “The outer shell is my search for his story, which he refused to talk about for 60 years after the war. The outer shell consists of my plowing through difficulties to find his story and capture it. His story is the inner shell of the series.”
Partial panel from
Partial panel from "Soldier's Heart."



It’s likely that some day, when the “You’ll Never Know” trilogy has stood the test of time, it will be gathered into one large volume with an epilogue.

Says Tyler, “And while that may contain facts relating to what happened later to the principle characters in the story, it may be that I find in the very end that, on some level, I can never completely find my father’s story, that one generation cannot completely connect with another and that questions remain.”
  • See more about Carol Tyler’s “You’ll Never Know” series, including a brief video (scroll down to bottom of link) where her father, veteran Chuck Tyler, discuss his landing in North Africa where his shipmates drowned as well as recollections from his experiences in W.W. II Europe.