Crecy – Ellis/Caceres

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Crecy – Ellis/Caceres
Books & Comic Books
Written by Kaustubh Thirumalai
Thursday, 22 November 2007 10:32
Screw comic books for a bit (w00t??). A little history lesson now… The English were generally pissed off about something or the other. How else to vent your fury than by going to war?! Want to make it better? Go to war with your neighbours! Even better? Gosh, let’s go at it for a hundred years (funnily enough, the Hundred Years War lasted for 116 years)! During the Hundred Years War, the Englishmen happened to land in this place called Crécy (sure, it looks nice NOW, doi!), situated in Northern France. An English army comprising of only 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers (composed mainly of longbow men i.e. archers) managed to emerge victorious over a French Cavalry which boasted of around 35,000 men. First of all, this was not home turf for the Brits. Secondly, they were well outnumbered and the fact that they knew it, would’ve surely fucked with their confidence. Thirdly, the Brits had A LOT of internal fighting going on, what with the Welsh, Scots, and Mainlanders all in a cramped area etc. So….This was quite a fucking significant victory! The win was a result of the superior tactics utilized by the English; which was, to choose a spot and shoot how many ever the fuck arrows you could shoot at that spot in a minute and then change your stance to another spot (no Crosshairs in the 14th Century…). One advantage that they had was that all of them were on foot while The French were on horses. These cunning Englishman used that wisely to the effect that they’d shoot the horses (if they happened to be in one of those select spots haha) and then skin the rider. Doing this over and over ensured that The French couldn’t even come close to the Brits – the legend is that the Brits lost only 40 men out of those 8 grand! Now, that is surely something remarkable.So there’s your background history. Pointless? Not at all. The good Briton in Warren Ellis has surfaced (finally?) and joined forces with Avatar (under Apparat) to produce a lean, mean French bashing machine (take note Americans…); and he’s used the above piece of history as his tool. First and foremost, Crécy has a very sarcastic, brutal, ruthless tone about it (Yawn says the Ellis fanboy). It’s narrated by an English longbow man, William of Stonham, who is well, umm, not so chivalrous:”There’s a word you’ll have to get used to. Cunt. This is a word that many people do not like. But you have to understand The English……In England, the word cunt is punctuation.”

Hilarious stuff Mr. Ellis! A first-person historical narrative works very well, seamlessly shifting to and from the fourth wall. The narration starts off explaining why they (the Brits) are actually there in Crécy, to the events leading up to battle, to the actual battle itself (which, mind you, is friggin glorious) and then on to justify the massacre and revel in the aftermath. Raulo Cáceres gives us some awesome black and white artwork that is just as detailed as the Englishman’s insults. The art gave me a sort of Asterix vibe. Heh, obviously not as cartoon-ish though, but it emanates the similar ‘medieval’ feeling. Another vibe I got from this art was a prominent influence from Pieter Brueghel The Elder – yup, the Suicide Of Saul comes to mind. Also, the comic is filled with some pretty cool maps explaining what the present scenario is. I’m eager to check out more of this guy’s art!

Well, there isn’t much else to say about this comic. It’s a fucking awesome read, ‘nuff said. You know the background (especially if you’re British or French), you know how it turns out, but find out how Ellis’ take on this is. New, funny, entertaining, memorable, intelligent, bold and at the same time, you get to learn a bit about history – what more do you want from a comic book? This one is a must read one-off. Crécy is the comic book whose movie the makers of 300 are dying to film…