March 28, 2010

A Swashbuckling Graphic Novel Series: The Crogan Adventures

The review copies of Crogan's Vengeance and Crogan's March were both sent to me by the publisher; Crogan's Vengeance was a Cybils finalist in the YA graphic novels category.

The Crogan Adventures is a series of swashbuckling adventure graphic novels by Chris Schweizer. Each installment follows a different Crogan ancestor--pirates, soldiers, gunslingers, what have you. In each book, the frame story that sets up the action is the modern-day Crogan family: two boys and two parents, the father full of stories about the exciting Crogans of the past.

When one of the boys faces a mild issue such as bullies at school or a fight with his brother, Dad quickly steps in with a helpful tale of how a past Crogan dealt with a similar issue, and those past Crogans form the meat of the story. Which is good--the frame story is amusing, but for me, the real action takes place in the stories of pirate "Catfoot" Crogan (in Crogan's Vengeance) or legionnaire Peter Crogan (in Crogan's March). The frame lends it some ongoing structure from volume to volume, but it mainly seemed to serve the purpose of making sure the reader is aware of the theme and the moral of each tale. That didn't bother me, though some might find it intrusive or unneeded.

In both volumes, the adventure aspect has universal appeal, there's non-stop action, and the story is well-written. Plus, who doesn't love pirates plying the high seas, or valiant soldiers who help the needy and triumph against the odds? Schweizer's humorous, loose illustrations fit the tone and reminded me of classic kids' adventure comics like Asterix the Gaul.

In some ways I would have loved this to be in color, but maybe it's better for the style of the broad ink strokes that it's black and white--it helps focus attention on the slashing, expressive line quality, and adds to the atmosphere of action-packed fighting. A fun series with plenty of kid and adult appeal and a very classic, old-school kids-comics feel.


Ms. Yingling said...

I will have to look into these. My students love graphic novels, and I'm always looking for ones that are amusing and somewhat educational.

Heather Zundel said...

I thought these were fantastic. I was really happy (and surprised) they made it to the final round. I'm especially fond of Catfoot. A good series.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Amusing and somewhat educational is a good description--I really enjoyed these. Catfoot was one of my favorites of all the Cybils finalists!