It’s Small Press Wednesday! This week, we turn our attention to UK publisher Markosia’s newest addition, Johnny Recruit, a World War 2 comic created in the style of early war comics/propaganda posters featuring double-page spreads and no dialogue. The tale is also written by 14-year-old Theo Behe and illustrated by Canadian artist Tom Muzzell. The book is slated to release this March.
Read details from the publisher below:
“Set in wartime Canada, England, and Germany in 1941, Johnny Recruit is a story about hope, heroics, and youthful ambition. When 14-year-old Big Johnny learns his uncle’s been captured by Nazis, he’s sure the only person who can rescue his mentor is – himself. Stellar bush pilot and expert game hunter, Johnny lies about his age and joins WW2 to find his best friend. But when a rival British pilot threatens to expose his secret, Johnny faces tough decisions no young kid should have to make…”
Behe, a 14-year-old Canadian student, came up with the concept for a school project submitted years ago in primary school. The inspiration came from his great uncle’s heroics in WW2. Currently, he’s in Grade 9 at Highgate School in London.
Publisher Harry Markos talks about signing the teen writer to a book deal.
“Markosia is all about offering great comics that explore new ideas and concepts from creators everywhere,” said Markos. “Johnny Recruit is full of emotion, energy, and lots of fun. This is an exciting project, an excellent story from a very talented team.”
Both Behe and Muzzell share a fascination with 20th-century war, and soon after meeting, the pair discovered they each had a great uncle named Bert who fought in WW2. Behe’s was a distinguished Canadian RAF flying ace while Muzzell’s was a heroic soldier who spent three years in a German POW camp.
“We all have great relatives in our family trees, people who’ve lived amazing lives and done amazing things,” said Behe. “My great uncle Bert was one of them. He shot down lots of enemy planes – even got shot himself. He has made our family proud. So I wanted to write some fun adventures around him – create some new characters and heroes that might match up to what he did.”
Their approach of inking a retro WW2 comic in a black and white double-page scenic spread fits with the overall vibe of the story. The “propaganda poster” approach harkens back to a time when many comic covers resembled WW2 recruitment, war bond, or blood donation drive posters.
“I love the challenge of having no words and single landscape panels to tell this story,” said Muzzell. “There’s lots of detail in the script, plenty going on each page – so lots of planning needed. And I love the story – this book would be on my shelf even if I wasn’t working on it.”
“I like to read pretty much everything – comics, novels, history books, Insta posts,” stated Behe. “Now my friend Tom has made this story into these amazing comic pages – they’ve turned out great, just the way I imagined.”
Check out some preview pages below and stay tuned for updates on the March release of Johnny Recruit.