Thursday, May 17, 2012
Crogan's Loyalty, by Chris Schweizer
One of the first that leapt to mind was the new graphic novel in the Crogan's Adventures series by cartoonist Chris Schweizer. The set-up for the series is pretty cool: every book tackles the adventures of a different person in the family tree, so one generation was a pirate (the first book, Crogan's Vengeance, covers that), another was a legionnaire (the second, Crogan's March, had that), and on and on, including detectives, spies, cowboys, smugglers, frontiersmen, even a ninja! Swashbuckling, old-school historical adventure, every one.
This week, the newest title in the series comes out. Set during the American Revolution, Crogan's Loyalty pits Crogan brother against brother, as one Crogan stands with the Loyalists, and the other with the Colonial revolutionaries.
Schweizer has set up each book as a tale told by a father to his sons, a little morality tale, a bit of history used to reflect on some of the struggles the kids are going through. But the tales themselves are full-on, no-holds barred action. It's a bit like flipping channels on a weekend and settling into one of those black and white high-adventure films from the thirties and forties, the kind that starred the likes of Errol Flynn. Or picking up a novel by Sir Walter Scott or Robert Louis Stevenson. In both cases the books and movies have more guts and grit than how they are sometimes remembered.
Many adults fondly recall those movies and books as simple stories of dashing heroes, full of derring-do-- but as they really were, they contained much more frank acknowledgement of the cost of things like war, and the difficulties of staying true to what you feel is right, and just, and morally true. Above all, our actions have consequences, and that's a truth that plays out on every page of each of the Crogan books.
What I like best about the Crogan books is that, while they are kidslit, their adult protagonists allow for something all to rare nowadays -- young readers to envision their adventures and actions through a book's hero in the adult world, and in history itself. Only with lots more swordfights, shoot-outs, invasions, wars, and other cool stuff.
Crogan's Vengeance is great, and Crogan's March is even better: tightly plotted, with strong characters and bold, lively, swooping lines in every panel. You can see why I'm so excited for Crogan's Loyalty!