“Dude…. You’re going to be all right, right?”
That was how I decided to phrase it. Casual. Not too mother-henny. Still manly, you know? See, it was ’05, and I was on the phone with Josh. He was going to fly to Uganda, eventually ending up in Acholiland -- which had been a war zone for the past couple decades. Of course, now it was in peace talks. It was safe.
But still… He was going to a war zone. And I was his editor. Logically speaking, it did kind of fall to me to say, “Hey, is this really a good idea?” I mean, yes, I was committed to the book, but Josh had become a friend, and he was going to a war zone. And you don’t want to be known as the editor who gets his writers killed in war zones. It’s kinda the unwritten rule of comics editing.
Of course, we know how the story ends. Joshua Dysart spent a month-long research trip in Uganda to write UNKNOWN SOLDIER, a comic which no less than PREACHER scribe Garth Ennis described as a “book that really matters.” In about two weeks, the first trade hits, and in that honor, I thought I’d include Alberto Ponticelli’s never before seen early concept sketches here.
But while you’re looking at them, think about this:
None of us – none of us – not even Josh, was 100% sure he was going to be OK when he flew down there. We just didn’t know any better. And I’m sure Josh was thinking that too when they were telling him at one point in his trip that it was perfectly safe, but not to stray too far, because they hadn’t removed all the landmines yet. Because UNKNOWN SOLDIER is a book that makes a lot of gutsy calls, but what people don’t know is, Josh made the gutsiest one before he even wrote a word of it.
Moses and Sera with children: