Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pulp of the Week - Operation Red Jericho

The Guild of Specialists Book One
Operation Red Jericho
Written and Illustrated by Joshua Mowll
Additional Illustrations by Julek Heller and Niroot Puttapipat

Operation Red Jericho is a terrific adventure story by Joshua Mowll. The tale is framed as the research the author has done in his great aunt's secret archives. You see, the great aunt had quite a series of adventures with her brother in the 1920s. There are three books in the series that is called The Guild of Specialists Trilogy. They come packages like thick journals.

The first of these novels takes place mostly in the South China Sea, with pirates, warlords, and a secret society, the aforementioned Guild of Specialists. In addition to being an author, Mowll is a professional graphic designer and the book is chock full of maps, schematics, and drawings.

Joshua Mowll's graphic elements support the pulpy adventure tale of sibling teenagers Rebecca and Doug MacKenzie as they search for their missing parents. Becca keeps a journal and Doug is an artist. Julek Heller provides the sketches that in the story are attributed to Doug. The artwork is beautiful and illustrates the story without feeling like it is duplicating the text.

We learn about an age-old conspiracy as well as the secret society, The Guild of Specialists, that the elder MacKenzies are a part of. Exactly who and what the Guild are is still  mysterious, but we do know that they are trying to save mankind from the evils of the world.

Here is a schematic of a small submarine that Doug and Becca encounter. It is a three-part fold out.

There are also numerous side bars featuring character information and other notes.

I was very impressed with the quality of the art and extras in this book. It really makes a neat package along with the pulpy goodness of the story. I look forward to reading the next one.

This is packaged as a children's book, but I guess that is because kids are reading and buying books. They are not hung up on what genre a book is, because kids books themselves are the genre. The characters here are teens and the language and action are well done and thrilling. Characters are killed, and there is danger and torture, but it is not gratuitous or graphic.

A high school english teacher of mine once said that great children's literature is first and foremost great literature. While I'm not sure if Operation Red Jericho is great literature, I am sure that it is great storytelling and I for one am happy to have found this book at all.

The book industry seems to be trapped in a self-fulfilling prophesy where they are losing adult readers. Hiding good adventure fiction from millions of those readers seems a poor way to go about your business. Just because a book isn't full of swearing and sex does not mean it is of no interest to adult readers. I think that much of the best adventure fiction being written today is hiding in the YA section of the bookstore and library.

No comments: