Thursday, January 19, 2012
The Loxleys and the War of 1812
Story - Alan Grant
Art - Cladue St. Aubin
Color - Lovern Kindzerski
Letters - Todd Klein
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. I'm no historian, but I do love to read about this great country of ours. It's been a good 10 years since I've done any reading on Canada's war with the United States, so I was pretty excited to dive into a preview of the upcoming Renegade Press book, The Loxleys and the War of 1812.
Historical fiction always walks a tight rope between fact recitation and storytelling, and writer Alan Grant has done an amazing job setting up the story. This preview does an admirable job of setting up the reasons why the War of 1812 started in the first place (the British hindering the American efforts to expand west by supporting the Tecumseh's Indian tribes, impressment of U.S. naval vessels, and an appearance of British weakness due to a war against France). Somehow, Grant manages to get these points across, and still leave room to give the characters some personality and room to develop.
Claude St. Aubin does a spectacular job on the artwork. It's lighter tone will make this book accessible to a wide audience, yet it never sacrifices it's ability to communicate pain and anxiety during moments of tension. In particular, Eliza Loxley reading her husbands first letter home is well done. The art isn't melodromatic or over the top, it serves the story perfectly.
Here's a great panel example of how well Kindzierski separates fore, middle and background with his colour choices. This photo, taken with an iPhone, doesn't do it justice.
My only criticism is a single bit of dialogue uttered at the beginning of the preview - a gentleman walks into a community dance...
Laura: ...my good man here spends his time worrying about war with America!
James: Well, they have so many reasons, you see. For example, the way the British stop and search American vessels--
Wow, this guy must be the life of the party!
It's one of my main beefs about historical fiction. Characters that dispense historical facts that don't feel natural at all. It's a necessary evil in the genre, and it works to communicate the details of history, but it seems so out of place. Alan Grant only relies on this storytelling tactic once in the entire 22 page preview, so it doesn't spoil the great story. And for all I know, James' character may be a guy who is so hip to worldly affairs that he's always rambling on about them, whether his audience is looking for a lecture or a dance on a Saturday night.
For a slightly more extreme example of how silly this storytelling technique can get, check out this Heritage Minute commercial describing Vince Coleman warning a train approaching Halifax that the biggest man-made explosion the earth had seen up to that point was about to wipe out the entire city.
I seriously doubt that anyone focused on saving the lives of innocent people is going to waste time telling the person next to him some historically accurate yet context irrelevant facts, such as "the train is coming in towards Pier 6", and that "there are 700 people aboard it!".
Anyhow, I digress. Grant, St. Aubin and Kindzierski's talents shine telling this story, and I can safely say that this preview alone has me very excited for the full release this April.
The hardcover release of The Loxleys and the War of 1812 will also feature a 30 page essay on the war by Canadian war historian Mark Zuehlke. Zuehlke's previous writings on the Canadian experiences at Juno Beach, Ortona and the liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War are fantastic, well researched books, and having his comments in this volume will be a real bonus.
I invite you to like The Loxleys and the War of 1812 on Facebook!
Also, check out The Loxleys and the War of 1812 on Renegade Arts Entertainment's official site.
Currently playing: Blue Rodeo - Outskirts
Proudly in my sixth Cola free year!