(Full Disclosure: a complimentary electronic copy was provided for purposes of review. My opinions are my own)
History is a very tricky subject to handle in graphic form - photos and pictures can provide moments of high emotion, but with little context; and the complexities of politics, situations, and events interacting can often be oversimplified and turned into dull storylines.
Thankfully, on the bicentennial of The War of 1812 (and this post has been the object of frequent procrastination by yours truly), we have a fine graphic novel that manages to take a little-known conflict in American history and manages to not only provide a human face to it, but also manages to educate and inform the reader as well.
Alan Grant's The Loxleys and the War of 1812 (available through Renegade Arts Entertainment) is a definite must-read not just by students of history, but also of anyone who enjoys strong graphic storytelling. Focusing on the War of 1812's impact on a family in Canada, the novel drives home that sense of impact - although told mostly as a flashback, there's a palpable sense of "you are there" emotionally. Grant's script really places the war in context. (There's also an essay after the novel that describes the greater historical situation - essentially, the War of 1812 was dealing with the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, but that would be spoiling, wouldn't it?)
But it's Claude St. Laubin's art and Loverin Kindzierski's colors that add to the book's effectiveness - there isn't a false step in every panel. Instead of making this a more old-fashioned, yes-we-know-this-is-history style, the art and colors really drive home the overall impact of the story, almost as if this were being drawn "from life". It's a really strong graphic novel, and my only regret is that I did not blog about this earlier.
The Loxleys and the War of 1812 may not be for everyone - not everyone wants to read educational comics. (For those of you that do, why not support the efforts of Reading With Pictures?) But this is one of the better graphic novels that was released this year, and is a very pleasant surprise.
At the very least, consider making this your kick-off must-read of 2013.