Jeff Martin prefaces Redcoats-ish by saying he came up with the idea while studying history at university and learned more about the War of 1812 “because the sign of a history nerd is doing historical research that has nothing to do with your actual classes.” (Hi, Jeff, I have a tattoo of Ben Franklin’s signature on my back, I think we’re kindred spirits.) He recognized the comic potential in war (think M*A*S*H, but more slapstick buffonery) and ran with it. I’ve reviewed a fair amount of historical comics and graphic novels in the past six months, but aside from Deadpool’s bromance with the spirit of Ben Franklin, they’ve all been on the serious side. Color me intrigued.
In the pages of Volume 1 lies the tale of George Morton and John Pink, two of the most incompetent soldiers you’ll ever meet. George and John refer to shooting the enemy as “musketing them,” battles as “shooty things,” and lump the rest of service together as “soldier stuff.” Their superior officers are even worse, with no sense of leadership and adopting a “if we ignore the Americans, they’ll go away” mentality. And lest we think the Americans come out looking good? Yeah, they have their fair share of Georges and Johns as well.
The art is black and white caricature, with bulbous noses ala Ziggy and elaborate mustaches (actually, that part is true to life, men in the 1800s were fond of their facial hair). The lettering isn’t polished or stylized. But given that these soldiers are buffoons, the newspaper comics feel works. The use of current language (an officer saying “because reasons” as the basis for his decision tickled me more than it should have) instead of an attempt at more formal 1800s speech works well. The more I read, the more people I wanted to send it to; history professionals, students, and even just casual history buffs will enjoy this one, and so will anyone who can see the ludicrous in the middle of “serious business.” Redcoats-ish is a fun ride and I’m giving it 4 out of 5 Lightning Bolts. Ben Franklin would have enjoyed it.
REDCOATS-ISH: JEFF MARTIN’S WAR OF 1812, VOLUME 1
Writer/Artist: Jeff Martin
Publisher: Renegade Arts Entertainment
Released: September 24, 2014