For the last couple of years, it seems that pirates have been the favorite thing this side of vampires to sell a comic, movie, or video game. With that in mind , I’d like to commend Chris Schweizer for being the first person to tell a story about pirates that has actually kept my attention.
Crogan’s Vengeance, the first book in a proposed 16-volume series about the (in)famous members of the Crogan family tree, tells the story of pirate “Catfoot” Crogan. Crogan starts the book as a legitimate sailor, but is “persuaded” to change careers by marauding pirates during the first few dozen pages. The book then continues on it’s merry way, with all the naval battles, swordplay and pirate slang you’d expect from a book set in the Spanish Main during the 1700s. I don’t want to give too much plot away, but the crux of the story is “Catfoot” attempting to survive and keep his honor after running afoul of D’Or, another pirate who is, physcially and morally, his opposite.
By never taking itself too seriously or becoming too cartoony, Crogan’s Vengeance skillfully walks a thin storytelling tightrope. The character of “Catfoot” Crogan is instantly compelling – a character willing to enter the world of piracy but unwilling to sacrifice his principles in doing so. The other characters are quickly filled in; the villain, the gruff-but-fair captain, the noble and not-so-noble other pirates. Although the characters beyond Crogan aren’t incredibly deep outside of the archetypes they fit into, they certainly aren’t one dimensional. Each is fleshed out enough to be a distinct fellow player in the book, but the characterization is light enough to keep the story moving along at a quick clip. All together, the book feels like a classic adventure story in the vein of Treasure Island or Robinson Crusoe. Bonus points to Schweizer for writing a pirate story that, by all accounts, is well-researched and faithful to real 18th century pirates and privateers.
I’d describe Schweizer’s style as cartoony, though certainly not simple or amateurish. The style has a smoothness – a flow – that fits the story well, and really captures the motion in each panel. Particularly impressive are the wide-angle panels of frantic scenes; the shots of swordplay and naval battles are incredibly detailed and a joy to pore over. The smooth artistic movement complements the storytelling, and I easily moved from panel to panel without feeling lost in any transitions.
Crogan’s Vengeance is a hell of a lot of fun to read. A pirate story of epic proportions with adventure, honor among thieves, subterfuge and “yo-ho-ho” dialogue is sure to charm any reader with even a slight interest in pirates. The story alone would be worth 14.95, but Oni goes one better by releasing the book as a beautifully bound hardcover with nice, heavy paper stock. I’ll certainly be looking forward to Schweizer’s next book in the series, Crogan’s March, coming later this year.
Crogan’s Vengeance by Chris Schweizer – 14.95 – 189 pages – Hardcover – ISBN 9781934964064 – Oni Press