A teenage Quaker joins the Union Army and experiences firsthand the brutality of the Civil War in this singular graphic novel by a beloved comics artist and animator.
During the Civil War, many Quakers were caught between their fervent support of abolition, a desire to preserve the Union, and their long-standing commitment to pacifism.
When Charles Cox, a young Quaker from Indiana, slips out early one morning to enlist in the Union Army, he scandalizes his family and his community.
Leaving behind the strict ways of Quaker life, Cox is soon confronted with the savagery of battle, the cruelty of the enemy (as well as of his fellow soldiers), and the overwhelming strangeness of the world beyond his home.
He clings to his faith and family through letters with his sister, Fanny, who faces her own trials at home: betrayal, death, and a church that seems ready to fracture under the stress of the war.
Discipline is told largely through the letters exchanged between the Cox siblings—incorporating material from actual Quaker and soldier journals of the era—and drawn in a style that combines modern graphic storytelling with the Civil War–era battlefield illustrations of the likes of Thomas Nast and Winslow Homer.
The result is a powerful consideration of faith, justice, and violence, and an American comics masterpiece.
About the Author
Dash Shaw was raised Quaker in Richmond, Virginia, where he currently lives. He is the cartoonist of many graphic novels and wrote and directed two animated feature films, the most recent of which, Cryptozoo, won the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Innovator Prize and will be distributed by Magnolia Pictures. Shaw began working on Discipline in 2014, and it was drawn over the course of six years.
“A harrowing but nuanced Civil War epic. . . The blend of mournful and contemplative musings from Charles and Fanny, along with the raw, ugly, details of life during wartime, combine into a searingly grim yet insightful study. Shaw artfully captures the timeless crisis of idealism meeting painful reality.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Shaw’s fluid, untethered lines rhyme with the book’s constant sense of movement as the journey of 17-year-old Charles Cox unfolds on the battlefield and beyond. The refreshingly aerated pages of Discipline often reminded me of a sketchbook: Pictures can repeat, as if they’re being worked out. . . Discipline isn’t as interested in delivering visual realism as it is in capturing the texture of emotion and feeling.” —Hillary Chute, The New York Times
“Shaw . . . eschews panel-to-panel storytelling in favor of overlapping images that flow across pages redolent of an artist’s sketchbook, overlaid with text and narration.” —Anja Webb, Library Journal, starred review
“A fascinating story. . . Dash tells it in an unconventional style.” —Gil Roth, The Virtual Memories Show