The Loxleys are a Canadian family torn apart by the American invasion of Canada in 1812. Renegade Arts Entertainment releases a graphic novel accompanied by a historical summary of the events of the war that drew to a close with no clear victor, except maybe that the war ending was triumph enough. Written by Alan Grant (Judge Dredd, Batman, Lobo), illustrated by Claude St. Aubin (Captain Canuck), and lettered by the legendary Todd Klein (Sandman), this excellent work of historical recreation is a welcome break from superhero comics and reminds us of the brutality of 19th century warfare. The last chapter of the book is a richly illustrated companion, War of 1812 Historical Summary, written by Mark Zuehlke.
Timed for the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, this graphic novel based on historical events follows The Loxleys, a fictional Canadian farm family, as Americans invade their country. As these things go, young men are sent off to die or to be wounded badly.
Americans tend to loose sight of our legacy as a conquering people, only to have memories jostled by pox blanket jokes on Thanksgiving each year.
As a young and proud country, we expanded our territory and declared autonomy from the British Army and the ruling class. News traveled slow in those days. Much like when your friend in the office gets the promotion, it may take some time for that promotion and authority to be recognized as a real thing. The Royal Navy often used a practice called impressment to force men into naval service. Many legitimate Americans (a five year citizenship was all that was required to declare yourself American) were impressed into the British Navy. Speaker of the House Henry Clay thirsted for war and used “press-ganging” as leverage for conquest of the North American frontier.
The frontier was an entirely different but related matter.
To be prescient of Manifest destiny, Americans would have to face the Native American tribes living at peace with the land there.
Prophet brother of Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa, fought the American white man at their Tippecanoe village in 1811. This was after Tecumseh allied his Native American Tribes with the British Army for supplies. A young Native American named Firebrand watches as Americans burn his village to the ground and slay his father. Firebrand swears to avenge his father’s spirit.
We meet the Loxleys shortly after. President Madison declares war on June 18, 1812 while former president Jefferson confidently states,
“The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.”
Father Aaron Loxley and sons Pierre and Matthew pack off to volunteer to defend Canada by joining the militia.
After some time passes at the Loxley’s Niagara farm, a rogue group of American brutes attack the family, leaving the matriarch stunned to a heart attack, and the family dog shot for barking. The Loxley’s young ten-year-old son George is left without his best friend and leaves to get revenge on these attackers.
He finds himself in a deadly position: crossing the river near a felled tree, when he is saved by Firebrand seeking the same justice.
George and Firebrand return together to Firebrand’s winter camp and George is trained under his new name “Little Pale-Face”.
What follows in the beautifully illustrated story, with luscious colors by Lovern Kindzierski, is a humanitarian story that delivers the historical events of the war and the families affected. Stepping beyond our comfort zone of American history told by Americans, this book helps us understand our own history through the lens of the other side.
Battles leave scars. The Native Americans were here first and Canadians have just as much right to be proud of establishing a country in North America as we do.
Most importantly, we can use historical lessons to put context around our foreign affairs policies as a country and the wars we wage today. Canadian and American educators should especially be interested in the historically accurate screenplay of this script being developed by Oscar-nominated Hollywood screenwriter Tab Murphy. Editor Alexander Finbow provides an introduction to the book as well as his motivations for assembling his creative team at new publisher Renegade Art Entertainment. Use Comic Shop Locator to see if there is a shop in your town carrying the book!
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE! CHECK OUT LEAGUEPODCAST.COM — BOSTON’S COMIC BOOK AND POP CULTURE PODCAST — “Thinking about Comics since 2009″!
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A different day of the week calls for a different kind of podcast. We discuss Alan “Old Green Lantern” Scott being gay and what that really means. Plus, the next X-Men sequel, the new Batman Annual, and Rick MacCallum’s unfortunate lot in life.