A fascinating, expressionistic trend is developing in some of the op-ed art dealing with the Iraq war, especially the illos that accompany first-person accounts from the battlefield. Like Dan Page's illustration last month and a more recent one dealing with espionage (unblogged because it didn't appear online), Jeffrey Smith's piece on Sunday depicts the situation "on the ground" in a style that borrows from war comics, film and other popular art forms that have taken moral stances on war by immersing the viewer in its harsh environment. In running illos like these, the Times takes a risk that they will be perceived as pulpish or trivializing, though I would argue they are anything but that. I wonder if the recent popular attention to the graphic novel has made this editorial choice easier. Joe Sacco's Palestine and Safe Area: Gorazde, Art Spiegelman's Maus and other prominent war documentaries in comics form have widely demonstrated that drawings can tell war stories in forms palatable to Times readers. (Whether these works are fundamentally more true or less exploitative than the old EC comics is another matter.) In any case, these illustrations raise the emotional temperature of the page from what it was even in the aftermath of 9/11. For the time being, this seems like a welcome development. P.S.: I wasn't watching the illo during the first Gulf War, so I don't know what war-related op-ed art was like during that period. Can anyone out there comment?