Monsieur Gravedigger


Monsieur Gravedigger is a short Foreign Legion tale found in Weird War Tales comic issue #2 (v1 002, Nov-Dec 1971).  The title alone as well as the setting sounds like classic P.C. Wren who often gave his fictional legionnaires nicknames–who can forget Sergeant-Major Suicide-Maker.  The fort is straight out of Beau Geste (the movie) and aptly named by the mutineer in this story “Madame La Republique’s Mud Oven”.  There are lots of other good classic Foreign Legion plot devices all packed into one great nine page story.

Weird War Tales was an exceptionally well done comic with a 12 year / 124 issue run.  The artwork is top notch and the well written stories are very entertaining.  The anthology format that jumped throughout history also appeals to me–as some of the WWII or Korean War settings of other war comics got repetitive.  There is a Showcase collection of the first 21 issues available.

Monsieur Gravedigger

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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3 Responses to Monsieur Gravedigger

  1. Eugene Olivier says:

    I enjoyed MONSIEUR GRAVEDIGGER. When I saw the cover picture a still from BEAU GESTE (1939 version) immediately came to mind. I recognised the arrogant stance of Brian Donlevy as Adjudant Lejaune (whose name was changed to Markoff for the movie) . I can’t imagine any Legion NCO quoting philosophy from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius though. The writer gives his hero credit for some rather specialist art knowledge about the Louvre, but then you never can tell regarding those mysterious legionnaires. I liked his choice of descriptions in the narrative e.g. “like a wolf on the fold” which is a direct crib from an old “parlour” poem by Byron (I think) namely “The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold” etc. and also “a thing of shreds and patches” (W.S. Gilbert)


    • Jack Wagner says:

      Thanks for some literary insight into that story Eugene. It was well written but quite constrained by the limited pages in the comic format. One of the better comics I’ve come across.


  2. Eugene Olivier says:

    I was right about Byron being the poet, and I have since looked up the poem that the quote was from…..The Destruction Of Senacharib. The Gilbert quote is from The Mikado in which Nanki-Poo , the son of the Mikado, describes himself as “A Wand’ring minstral I, a thing of shreds and patches”. I was interested in the accurate artwork in the background of the Legion fort, very much a-la-Zinderneuf.


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