Archive for August, 2007


Thursday, August 16th, 2007

I mentioned a while ago that I’d bought but not read Warren Ellis’s and Raulo Caceres’s Crécy. Leaving it unread didn’t last very long, but I haven’t written anything about it.

It’s quite phenomenal, actually. Scott McCloud is fond of talking about the uses of comics beyond entertainment, and Crécy is an example he should point at. Exactly what it’s an example of is hard to describe pithily, but it’s certainly excellent.

Crécy is a little bit of historical fiction, a little bit of dramatic sociology, some military history, a discourse on the longbow, and a lot of Warren Ellis ranting. The focal point of all this is the 1346 Battle of Crécy. You can read all about that battle on Wikipedia some time, but frankly, unless you’re a big fan of 14th century history, you’ll be hard pressed to finish the article. I guarantee that if you sink the seven bucks to buy this comic, you’ll be able to describe the battle, its technology, and its implications for weeks afterward. You may just corner random people and start ranting about it. It may be difficult to shut you up about it.

Ellis tells the story from the perspective of a fictional archer in the battle, but one who is aware he’s talking to 21st century readers and is cognizant of the intervening history. It’s more effective than it sounds. He deftly manages to keep the reader in the 14th century slogging through the mud to what any contemporary would assume will be a slaughter and connecting the dots between that world and ours with humor and insight. Humor and insight are only two of the techniques, actually, but they’re the strongest.

Ellis is a formidable voice, and an artist could be overwhelmed by him; Caceres is more than up to the challenge. His art is beautifully detailed and cleanly laid out. He gets a fantastic amount of detail on to the page without cramping it. Furthermore, in service to Ellis’s far-reaching goals for the work – part tactical and technological study, part illumination of the human condition – Caceres has to communicate everything from detailed drawings of demonstrations of 14th century armaments, to comprehensible maps of the battlefield, to vivid images of human beings in close combat. He spans these styles with an aplomb that trivializes their difficulties.

The result is an illuminating, entertaining, thought-provoking description of an event that I’d assumed only held interest to the D&D crowd.

Get a copy and enjoy.

More reviews

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

I’ve posted reviews of Wealth and Democracy, Babbitt, and Don’t get Too Comfortable on Bell, Book and Candle.  Been a long time coming.