A couple of months back, Jason Fritz said this on Twitter:
To which Adam Elkus replied:
This led to a brief conversation among me, Jason, and Adam about the dearth of good strategic training tools for the playground set (however strong their tactical skills might be, and it sounds like the younger Mr. Fritz’s are pretty solid), and concluded with an agreement that a children’s book version of Clausewitz would be awesome.
It happened that I had just started reading On War when we had this conversation. This was the first time I had read Clausewitz through, front to back. I work three jobs, and don’t have nearly enough time to read, so I get most of my reading done on the train as I travel to and from and between works, meaning that I was carrying a 900+ page book in my bag for about two months, as I read closely, pausing frequently to re-read segments or to take notes. The weight of it on my shoulder made it more of a presence than the average book, and I began referring to it simply as Carl, as if it were a sentient being accompanying me on my commutes. (I was also inspired to get an e-reader). I like to think that Carl and I got pretty tight during this experience, and I hope that we will continue to get closer as we work together on this project (albeit through the much lighter-weight electronic version I purchased once I got that e-reader), but really Adam and Jason (as well as many, if not most, of the people with whom I interact on Twitter and whose blogs and such I read on a regular basis) are much more experienced scholars of Clausewitz and of strategy than I am.
What I bring to the table here is a lifelong commitment to being one of those people who actually does those silly things you talk about doing but never do. Like in college, my friend Ant and I had this conversation about how Existentialist Philosophy and Norse Mythology are basically the same thing and thought: wouldn’t it be cool if we made a comic book about the old gods where the modern world was the ongoing embodiment of Ragnarok and we wrote it and we got our friends to play the gods and set up scenes and shot photos and scanned the negatives into the computer and created our own font and made layouts in Photoshop and altered them and then etched them onto zinc plates and then printed them by hand onto rag paper? Like, the most complicated comic book ever? How awesome would that be? And then we actually did that.
I also bring to this project degrees in History, Studio Art, and International Relations. I mention this not because any of those degrees is particularly useful here or represents any concrete qualification to execute this project, but just to illustrate 1) that I like making stuff and also 2) that I am nerdy enough to want to make stuff that is about a dead Prussian.
To share this process (read: in a cry for help), I have decided to blog my progress on the Children’s Illustrated Clausewitz. I will post text choices and sketches and layouts and eventually, hopefully, final products. I may also from time to time share some related thoughts. It is my hope that you, the audience of whoever out there decides to read this thing, will give me input on this project, participate in it to whatever degree you each might choose, whether through the comments, on Twitter, or via email. This can be on important issues such as what text or ideas should be included in the book or whether it’s better to quote or summarize, or on really important issues such as whether the artistic style should be edgy contemporary multimedia collages or Victorian-style pencil and watercolor drawings of woodland creatures or my usual bright color-blocked marker drawings of over-emotive monsters.
I think (read: hope) that some of you who are reading this are wiser, more experienced Clausewitz and/or Strategy and/or Children’s Literature and/or Twitter Art Projects wonks than I am. I would be honored and delighted to have the opportunity to publish guest posts from you on why you love Carl, or why you hate him, or why he’s important, or what strategy is, or why children need it, or why adults need it presented to them as if they were children, or why a certain idea absolutely must be included in any précis of Clausewitz, or why a particular quote is actually irrelevant, or why only anthropomorphic badgers can properly represent Clausewitz’s ideas to young children, or why over-emotive monsters are all wrong for the job.
So thank you in advance for your interest and/or your assistance and/or your pity. Carl and I are going to get to work on some preliminary thoughts and sketches.