This week on War Rocket Ajax, Chris Schweizer joins us to talk about his incredible Oni Press graphic novel series, The Crogan Adventures! He talks to us about what inspired his ongoing tale of family history and historical adventure, as well as what it's like to have a comic scrutinized by students when you're a professor of sequential art. Plus: Babies vs. Alligators, and you can listen ot the show right here at ComicsAlliance!
War Rocket Ajax #116: Gator Stories with Chris Schweizer
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)
You can also stream the show using the player above, or download it in MP3 format from WarRocketAjax.com.
At the top of this week's show, Matt Wilson is celebrating his birthday, or as we call it, the War Rocket Ajax Diamond Jubilee! In lieu of a cake or presents, Chris just talks about going to see WWE SmackDown live for about 20 minutes. It's just as thrilling as it sounds. And in our usual fashion, this week's show features probably the most geographically specific listener question we've ever done -- which is even more amazing since it comes from an international listener!
Once Chris Schweizer joins us, the conversation turns to what led him to a series of historical adventures:
They're very historically rooted. I try to keep them so that they're not dry, but I spend a lot of time researching each time period. Each book is a different time period, each book is a different genre, and each book stands alone, although they do build on each other. Once you read a few of them, you'll start to see supporting characters popping up at different ages, you'll start to see items and things like that that are carrying through, but they're designed so that you can in theory pick them up with any volume that you want. So if you're more interested in the American Revolution, you can pick up that volume first. If you're more interested in Colonial stuff, you can pick up the French Foreign Legion story first. They're done that way so that ideally, people will pick them up because they have an affection or affinity for that particular time period, or at least an interest in it, and then they'll like it enough that they'll seek out the other ones.
Although I came up with the family tree, it's still one of those things that dropped in my lap. It was very much an epiphany, more than working something out. It all came together in one day, to a degree. As a result of that, it's not one of those things that I can take credit for so much as being glad that I found myself working with that. I feel really lucky, because I get really, really enthused about different time periods, to the point where I research the hell out of 'em, read every book I can get my hands on set in that era or peripherally related to it, I watch every film I can set in that era. I get really enthusiastic about something for about six months, and then I kinda lose interest.
So what the Crogan thing does is allow me to utilize that and then work it into the preparation for a particular book. So although I love history, I'm not really enthused about one particular period. I know people who all they want to do is study the Civil War or the Crusades or whatever it might be, and I love doing that, but then I want to read everything else. This gives me a chance to jump around, and also never get tired.
There's that fear of having a series or character that's really popular, but isn't what you want to do with all your time, and so you feel trapped by it. If Crogan's ever gets popular -- which, you know, here's hoping, it does okay but it's no Scott Pilgrim -- if it ever does, I know that I'll never be trapped by it, because it'll allow me to jump from genre to genre, time period to time period, and still be within the framework of that series. I get the best of both worlds.
From there, we talk about his own family history, and discuss the morals at the end of each Crogan story, with a surprising request on how to handle them. Don't miss it!
A version of the Crogan Family Tree that's mentioned in the interview:
Chris's Rec:Prototype 2
Matt's Rec:Moonrise Kingdom
Kevin Keller #3: "The plot of this one is that the Riverdale kids and the Pembrooke Academy kids are fighting over the same beach. They both want to hang out at this beach and there's not enough room for both of them, I guess, even though there's only like 12 kids total. They decide they're going to have a surfing competition to determine who gets the beach, and it's a very typical Archie setup. But the Kevin Keller twist on it is that the leader of the Pembrooke kids is super homophobic and insulting. So you get the story of Kevin and his friends having to deal with this raging bigot. It's really interesting, but it's also a really solid, fun Archie comic that has that classic funny ending. It doesn't feel preachy and it doesn't feel like the focus of the book so much as it's an element of the established formula, which I think is the best way to to do that."
Harbinger #1: "It feels like the early parts of X-Men 2, where the kids are just kids, being sought out by people who want to use their powers in ways that are advantageous to them. That's what's happening in this comic. It's really interesting and thoughtful. Who would've thought when I talked at length about a Valiant comic, I'd talk about how thoughtful they are?" "It really reminded me more than anything else of Demo, and that's a good thing to be reminiscent of."
Action Comics #10: "I don't know what the craziest thing about this comic is. I think so far, it's the fact that we see young Superman get into his jeans and t-shirt outfit to go deal with a guy who kidnapped and killed a little girl. Later, he turns around and goes to talk to the Justice League in his armor outfit, which just proves to me that Grant Morrison really wants Superman to be in a t-shirt and jeans. I get Grant Morrison's commitment, but it really muddies the waters of the timeline in this thing."
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