The GeeksverseREVIEW | The Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance (Oni Press)

REVIEW | The Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance (Oni Press)
Published on Friday, April 17, 2015 by
Chris Schweizer’s award-wining all-ages historical graphic novel is back in paperback form, with all-new colors and lettering. How does it compare to the original black & white hardcover edition?

  • 0001Story & illustrations: Chris Schweizer
  • Colors: Joey Weiser, Michele Chidester
  • Format: 200 pages, full color, trade paperback
  • List price: $17.99
  • Sale date: 15 April 2015
  • Publisher’s description: Chris Schweizer’s award-winning historical adventure series returns in this new FULL COLOR edition of The Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance. When “Catfoot” Crogan becomes the new favorite of an infamous pirate captain whose crew he was forced to join, he incurs the wrath of the murderous first mate D’or. Can Catfoot keep his new crewmates safe when D’or hatches a scheme that will bring the full might of every navy in the West Indies down on their heads?

The practice of “colorizing” black & white art is just the type of thing that gets critics and aficionados all stirred up. Take, for example, the late film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert devoting a special episode of their popular series Siskel & Ebert & the Movies to campaigning against what they termed as Hollywood’s “new vandalism,” the practice of colorizing classic black & white films.

While perhaps not as controversial as it is in film, there also exist arguments against colorization in comics. For one thing, the conscientious illustrator will render something differently, depending on whether or not the art is intended to be colored. Lighting, composition, line weights, and textures that work in black & white may be less effective in color, and vice versa. Certain older readers will also perhaps recall how Marvel’s colorization of the the black & white art from the Pendulum Press Illustrated Classics books for use in the Marvel Classics Comics line detracted from the powerful and expressive ink work of masters such as Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo, Rudy Nebres, and others.

The reality, however, is that outside of the manga market, color comics are much easier to promote and sell than black & white comics, perhaps because of the perception that color publications provide more value than their monochromatic equivalent.

It is the case, then, that so long as it is done with the consent and participation of the original creators, any negative attitude I may hold towards the colorization of black & white comics is mitigated by the knowledge that the end-result may lead to an expanded readership for the work and additional revenue for the creators.

The thing about The Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance, the new edition of Chris Schweizer’s 2008 graphic novel Crogan’s Vengeance, is that it isn’t just a hastily colored version of the original. Colorists Joey Weiser (Mermin: Trick or Treat, Spongebob Comics) and Michele Chidester (The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook), working in close cooperation with Schweizer, have ensured that their contributions complement the black & white art. The colors don’t overwhelm the inked art at all, and actually give the pages a greater sense of depth and immersion. Below are side-by-side comparisons of select pages from the original black & white and the new full color editions, which demonstrate the effect of the new colors better than any written description (click on the images to view in full-size):

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The Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance also features new lettering, a response to reviewers’ criticism that the lettering in the original edition was clumsily executed and took away from what was an otherwise excellent book. Additionally, Schweizer also took the opportunity to correct some notable continuity errors that escaped scrutiny in the original. In the original version of the book, the one-handed amputee character Toomy, who should have a missing right hand and just a left hand, was incorrectly drawn gesturing with his right hand. This oversight has now been addressed in the new edition, as seen in the comparison images below:

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Another change is that a supporting character has been redrawn to better match his appearances in subsequent books in the series, although this is so minor that I imagine most readers who’ve read the original edition will miss it.

Regardless of one’s stance on creators revisiting and altering previously released works, the bottom line is that the minor art touch-ups, new colors, and new lettering in The Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance aren’t just changes for commerce’s sake. They are genuine improvements in terms of both accessibility and readability, even as the book remains, at its core, the same graphic novel that once earned a coveted spot on the American Library Association’s list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens (and should do so again, if it’s eligible for next year’s list): A meticulously researched, character-driven, expertly-executed, and ultimately entertaining work of historical action-adventure fiction.

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