This is the splash page for a new story, “Belly Gunner” – a new graphic short story for FOLKTALES. It is a first for me on a couple of fronts: 1) It’s my first war story, and 2) it’s the first story that is entirely based on someone else’s true story: Earl Burke, who was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 during World War II. I was so moved by his story, that I merely told it – except for a little editing for the sake of brevity – as he told it in Ken Burns’ “The War”. You might say I’m directing it. Like many people, I’m fascinated with World War II for a multitude of reasons. I’m particularly amazed by the kind of bravery it took to do things like climb into a sperry ball beneath a B-17 – and extremely claustrophobic space to inhabit – and blaze away at German Messerschmitts from 20,000 feet without the cover of Allied fighter plane support. I try to imagine myself having to do something like that at nineteen years old, and it seems like a nightmare. FOLKTALES will include a few war stories. I’m very interested in the impact World War II and Vietnam had on American culture, and how both wars played integral roles in shaping two successive generations. Of course, there is no shortage of World War II stories, both in comics and other mediums, but I feel compelled to take a shot at my own versions. The trouble with the glut of war stories out there is that it’s easy to become desensitized to them. I’m most interested in the human side of war. What I liked so much about Burke’s story is just that. I hope I’m able to make it resonate.