Nanjing: The Burning City is cartoonist Ethan Young's retelling of a truly horrific moment in Chinese history, treated with appropriate gravity thanks to the gritty detail of Young's line work. To help spread the word about the book, released in August of this year, publisher Dark Horse has put together a trailer that gives some sense of the power and intensity of this story.

Nanjing: The Burning City takes place during the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, in which Japanese troops devastated the city of Nanjing in China. The death toll for the Chinese was estimated to be anywhere between 40,000 and 300,000, and mass murder, rape, and looting occurred throughout the city for six weeks. It's an incredibly dark subject, and Nanjing: The Burning City promises a brutal exploration of its horrors.

Young told Graphic Policy:


There was definitely a lot of input from my editor, but also some self-censorship and restraint on my own part. Being a cartoonist is a very solitary profession, so you work in this vacuum, and things that seem tasteful at first might feel inappropriate when you shine it in the light of day. As for the horrific acts of sexual violence that took place, my book DOES address it, but you never see it happen, you only get glimpses of the aftermath. And even then, I aimed to be as tactful and respectful as I could. [Editor] Jim [Gibbons] and I made sure to field outside opinions on the depictions of brutality, to make sure we weren’t crossing a boundary.


While the subject matter is sure to be disturbing, Young has clearly spent a lot of time working up to this project and trying to give it its due respect, and it seems likely to make an impact with readers.



The solicitation copy for the graphic novel reads:


After the bombs fall, the Imperial Japanese Army seized the Chinese capital of Nanjing. Now screams echo off the rubble as two abandoned Chinese soldiers—trapped and desperately outnumbered inside the walled city—try to escape. What they’ll encounter will haunt them. But in the face of horror, they’ll learn that resistance and bravery cannot be destroyed.