ABOUT THE BLOG
If you’re reading this, you might be a teacher or professor who uses Two Generals in your classroom. Maybe you’re a student in that classroom. You could be a historian, either professional or amateur, researching the Second World War. Possibly, you’re investigating a relative’s involvement with the Highland Light Infantry of Canada. Or perhaps you’re a comics fan or a fellow creator who wants a behind-the-scenes look at how a historical “creative non-fiction” graphic novel is made.
Whichever of those descriptions applies to you, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m writing this introduction in October 2020, ten years after Two Generals was first published. The second wave of COVID-19 in Canada has ensured that this coming November 11th will be first Remembrance Day in a decade that I have not given a public lecture about the book at a school, library, archive, or veterans’ hall. My talks about Two Generals are heavy on research, telling not just my grandfather’s story, but also the story of how I became interested in telling it, and the many investigative turns and creative decisions that had to be made in order to result in the finished book nearly three years later.
This blog will have to replace those public lectures for the foreseeable future. It is the revival of an older blog that I began shortly after the book was released, but which I abandoned when I became too busy with the Three Thieves series (not to mention raising my children, who were younger then). I’ll be going through the book scene by scene, in much more detail than I do in my hour-long talks, highlighting the research that went into each scene and explaining my creative decisions along the way. To the best of my recollection, at least. Think of it as a sort of DVD commentary, but for a book. You'll see historical photographs, diaries, letters, newspapers, menus, meal tickets, flags, and other personal effects of my grandfather's, most of which have never been published.
A couple of things to keep in mind as you follow along:
I am not a historian. Though curious about many things in many fields, my interest in history is often no more than an attempt to find inspiration for my writing. (History is great for generating story ideas…the word “story” is right there in the word!) Though Two Generals is often used in schools, it is not a textbook. As you’ll discover in this blog, my personal interpretation is far too interwoven with the narrative to think of it as any sort of complete, objective, or definitive history. And there are places where I made mistakes...I’ll tell you about those, too. I’m not interested in competing with anyone in terms of general WWII knowledge. There are a lot of experts out there. I’m not one of them. My interest was/is in the specific experiences of Lieutenants Law Chantler and Jack Chrysler. Those things I am an expert in.
Likewise, I am not a military expert. This surprises some people, who wrongly assume that to have written a military story you must be a militarist. Though raised in a military family, and deeply respectful of Canadian service members both past and present, my lifelong disregard of authority has prepared me much better for the life of a cartoonist than one in uniform. My own relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces, as I will highlight in this blog, doesn’t extent much further than the creation of Two Generals. I did my best to get the details correct. And while I hope you will feel free to comment and discuss posts that interest you, I have no interest in arguing with people about tank treads or cap badges. There are already plenty places on the internet where you can do that.
I'll be posting irregularly whenever my schedule allows, though I'm hoping to do so at least a few times a month. If you're a long-time fan of the book, I hope you'll find additional information here that will allow you to see it in a new way. If you're new to Two Generals, I hope you'll follow along as you read, like having a copy that's been annotated especially for you. It has been. Either way, I hope you find this site enriches the experience.
Let's dig in.