The Dogs Of War

I'm sharing this for a few reasons.

This was done for an anthology called "Untold Tales of Iraq and Afghanistan" - which was an anthology comic or graphic novel as some people like to call them, to benefit the families of veterans lost or injured during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I was contacted by Clayton Murwin, the man who put countless hours and effort into making this book a reality about  taking part - the gist of the creative side of the project was that stories from troops themselves would be adapted into comics scripts by various writers and then Clayton and his dedicated team of volunteers would create the comic itself based off of those scripts.
The story that I was given to adapt came from one Staff Sergeant (at the time, I am not sure what rank he currently holds) CJ Grisham and based on journals he kept while serving his country in Iraq, during which time he was awarded several medals, including a Bronze Star with V device, two Meritorious Service Medals, an Army Commendation Medal, five Army Achievement Medals, a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, three Good Conduct Medals, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, an Armed Forced Expeditionary Medal and a Combat Action Badge...that I know of.

I got to know CJ a bit while adapting his journal entries and I'm happy and better off for it. I know there are surely many things I talk about and post online that he disagrees with politically - but we've never debated, argued or had words of any sort about it.
CJ is a real life hero and a freedom of speech warrior; he may not agree with what you say, but he'll fight for your right to say it as much as anyone I've ever met, if not more.
It was a very real experience working on this and one that I would like to share - hopefully it's an experience to read. I think this particular story of CJ's is worth telling and when I asked CJ for permission he said he agreed. So without any further ramblings, here is the story.




The Dogs Of War

Based on the journal of C.J Grisham - adapted by Jay Odjick

Page 1

Panel 1

We open on a trooper in bed, knees folded before him. Bed is a sparse, military rack; nothing but the bare essentials. There is a window nearby the bunk.

He wears a tanktop, dogtags and desert camo military issue pants; sports a high and tight hairdo.

On his knees sits a journal, and the writer looks very tired, weary. He is NOT writing, even though he has been trying to.


Panel 2

Closer in on our trooper now; his head bowed, he is falling asleep; eyes dimmed.


Panel 3

Closeup on face, we are moving in as if with a slow tracking camera. His eyes are shut.


Panel 4

Closer on eyes. Still shut.


Panel 5

SFX: Barking, and much of it. To LETTERER: Please make the barking rough, jagged and harsh, very in your face. Angry; diagonal placement, eye catching.

(Up to penciller to decide how much of face he wants to draw, but this should be dynamic.)

Our trooper’s eyes snap open, fully wide, in reaction to the barking.


Panel 6

SFX: Barking

Trooper rubs his eyes as the barking continues.


Panel 7

Trooper looks downward at journal.


Panel 8

Panel at bottom of page, just big enough to fit this text:


I went to SFC Lollar to get some more ammunition: 9mm rounds and


another thermite grenade. He said he could get me some more 9mm

rounds, but it might be tough to get a thermite grenade. I told chief

the deal and he said no more using these things without his

permission. I told him I can make those decisions and he reiterated no

more using those things without his permission. I told him that I

don’t need to be wearing Staff Sergeant rank then and made the attempt

to take it off. Unfortunately, it was sew-on rank. So, I decided to do

something I don’t think I need to ask for permission to do: I’m taking

a nap after writing this.

Page 2

Panel 1

SFX: Barking. Smallish font

Our trooper leans backward against headboard as the barking continues.


Panel 2

SFX: Barking; larger font than previous panel

Trooper looks skyward, head tilted back.


Panel 3

SFX: Barking! Large, prominent font.

Our trooper closes his eyes and covers his ears with his hands.



(This sound effect should come between the two panels; joining them, almost. In other words, it’s the divider between the two panels, in each, but acting as a gutter.)


Panel 4

Caption: I went to SFC Lollar to get some more ammunition.

Our trooper and a few other guys are behind cover, a wall, and bullets are smacking off it, thru it, dust flies, and ricocheting fragmentation all around them. We can see who is firing at them, insurgents protecting a large anti-aircraft gun. One enemy combatant mans the gun.


Panel 5

One man shouting, on or off panel, pencillers’ discretion: “Get on that damned anti-aircraft gun before they get off another shot! Let’s go!!”

Some of the troops are getting off return fire at the insurgents.


Panel 6

Our trooper eyes the A.A gun.


Panel 7

We see our trooper reaching for a frag grenade.


Panel 8

We get a nice, clear shot of our trooper clutching the grenade and preparing his toss.


Page 3

Panel 1

Our trooper tosses the thermal grenade.


Panel 2

The insurgents react, diving for cover, the one manning the AA gun in center focus; his eyes wide with fear and horror.


Panel 3

Our troop takes cover behind the wall, teeth gritted, eyes shut. We could also see some of his men following suit.


Panel 4


Voiceover: Yeah!

Some of the troops are peering around or over cover. Our trooper kneels on one bent leg, weapon at the ready.


Panel 5

We see the troops now surrounding the AA gun; we’ve skipped ahead a little in time, so if there was any combat post grenade toss, we’ll leave that to the imagination.


There is a large foxhole directly before the AA gun. (See reference pic 1); we can have some dust billowing, and we can see spent shell casings littered about to denote the fact the AA gun was active and that there was fire.


Panel 6

Trooper 1: Position secure, Staff Sergeant.

The men have encircled the gun.



Page 4

Panel 1

Our trooper, the writer, advances on the gun. No words here. He has his weapon slung over shoulder.


Panel 2

We see him reach for his thermal grenade.


Panel 3

Our trooper yanks the pin on the grenade, standing directly before the barrel, or tube.


Panel 4

He tosses the thermal grenade down the tube, directly into the belly of the gun.



Panel 5

Panel shows a solitary image of the AA gun, disabled. The tube or barrel is melting, the metal sags and melts downward, the thermite grenade heats up to 4000 degrees. Unsure as to whether or not this produces discernible flame, but I’ll leave this up to the penciller / art team to decide.

To the right of the ruined AA gun, we see text.



1159Z, 11 April 2003, Friday


I’m pissed off, so what better thing to do than write in a journal?  

A few days ago, I wrote about destroying an anti-aircraft gun with a

thermite grenade (incendiary). Well, someone got upset about that. I

don’t know if it was CPT Somers or Mr. Young, but Mr. Young told me

that if we can’t get a replacement grenade that I need to write a

memorandum about why, when and where the grenade was used.


Caption 2:

That whole thing makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why even give soldiers weapons if they aren’t supposed to use them? For crying out loud, I


destroyed an anti-aircraft gun with it. It's a freakin' war and

someone's worried about where a thermal grenade went. Next they'll be

asking why I need more ammunition or MRE's.


Panel 6

We see that our trooper has flipped back a page, and is reading a previous journal entry, the text above.


Panel 7

He thoughtfully eyes his writing, squinting.



Page 5

Panel 1



2050Z, 11 April 2003, Friday


 I can’t sleep. It’s almost midnight local time. Every time I close my

eyes images of the past few weeks run through my head.

Trooper leans back again.


Panel 2

SFX: Small font, not very intrusive, BARKING.


Things are calming down so fast that all that’s left is reflection. There are


also a couple of dogs outside that keep barking. I swear that in the

morning I’m going to ask the commander for permission to kill them.

He shuts his eyes.


Panel 3

SFX: BARKING, growing larger once more.


I probably could have gotten to sleep a long time ago, but the dogs kept


me awake. That made me angry which kept me thinking about other things

that made me angry.

Our trooper has gritted his teeth, angrily.


Panel 4

SFX: BARKING, growing larger still! In your face, obtuse and obnoxiously so.


Then all the things I’ve seen during this war kept

flashing through my mind.

Trooper places a forearm over and across his eyes, teeth gritted, lips pulled farther apart. To PENCILLER: This is the emotional core of the scene, please try to enable our reader to feel with our trooper.


 Page 6



When I close my eyes I see dead people. I


see myself nervously sitting in a foxhole waiting for the enemy to

suddenly jump out of the bushes only to be mowed down by claymore

mines and machine guns. I see artillery rounds exploding within feet

of me. I see myself getting shot at from less than ten feet away and

having to kill and injure people who are forced to fight me, but would

rather be with their families. I see the innocent faces of all the

people I’ve met that have nowhere to go. I see the Iraqi children

clutching their parents' hands and thighs.


A collage of images:

-Dead bodies

-Our trooper seated, looking nervous in foxhole

-Artillery rounds exploding, or explosions in general

-Our trooper engaged in close quarters shootout

-Children, hands outstretched toward us

CENTER IMAGE: faces of innocent, scared people – I feel this should be the focal point of the image overall; at the epicenter, the chaos and emotion, the carnage and destruction surrounding it. Artistically, I feel that works to show how these people are surrounded by all the things our trooper is describing, but please do what works best for the story.


Page 7

Panel 1


No one ever came to pick up that first sergeant we were talking to

earlier today.

Our trooper rises from his bunk.


Panel 2


Once it started getting dark, we had to have him leave.


We weren’t going to guard him and we didn’t want to make someone else

have to watch him either. The only other option was to tell him to

leave in the most polite way.

Our trooper has opened his eyes and is looking out a window, standing before it.


Panel 3


This was a guy who came forward and gave


us all sorts of information about where the enemy was and what their

disposition was. He said that he is a dead man now. He has no home to

go to. He is from Basrah. We let him go to sleep in the streets after

I told him that we don’t do that to people who help us. He can’t go to

a hotel because there aren’t any open. We used him and sent him out to

fend for himself.


Caption 2, low on panel, all alone: We might see him again.


Our trooper casts his eyes downward, away from his mirrored reflection.


Panel 4

Caption: I hate myself sometimes.

He looks up slightly, but his reflection is blurred this time. Dark, and muddled. Scary, possibly.


Page 8

Panel 1

SFX: BARKING, again loudly.


I’m going to kill that dog, I swear. I’m going to either shoot him or


hit him as hard as I can with the strongest pole I can find. That dog

will not bark again.

The Trooper looks out the window, eyes glaring.


Panel 2


I will hurt it so that it cannot move and then


bury it either alive or dead. I don’t think I’m even going to ask for

permission. I’m just going to walk up to it and hit it with all my



Caption 2, LARGER FONT: I could not get back to sleep if I wanted to.

The trooper whirls away from window.


Panel 3

Our trooper walking away from the window.


Caption: The barking must stop.

Panel 4

All text. Black panel.



2349Z, 11 April 2003, Friday

Okay, I'm back. I couldn't catch the dogs.


Caption 2:


Every time I got close they


just ran away. Of course, they were barking the whole time. If I

weren't so afraid of shooting one of our soldiers, I'da just shot at

them. I couldn't get close enough to hit this with a shovel I found. I

think the dogs probably sensed their imminent death if they let me get

close enough. I even tried sweet talking them into coming close and

pretending nothing was wrong. They didn't buy it. So, I'm back in my

cot still trying to get to sleep. At least I had a nice long walk

chasing those stupid things. I think I was out there about an hour. I

guess I'm more surprised no one mistook me for the enemy and took

shots at me. Of course, I'm in the middle of one of the most fortified

postitions in Iraq right now. We're living at Saddam's paradeground.

It's the place with the huge hands holding the swords over the road.

Caption 3:

Well, I'm gonna try to get some sleep, but I swear if I go without any

longer I won't be sane enough NOT to shoot those dogs.


Kagagi: The Raven OGN - Diamond order code STK436038

I'm going to write this as if youre completely unfamiliar with myself and my work, because lets face it, there is a good chance you are. If thats the case, no problem...
My name Is Jay Odjick - I'm a comics creator living in Canada. I am from the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin reservation; I'm First Nations, Native, Aboriginal, Indigenous, Indian or whatever new term they have for us today. I have worked on a few things in comics, online and in print, some indie / small press books ad had a webcomic at Moviepoopshoot.com called Power Hour. Awhile back I worked on my first creator owned comic and I decided that it could be cool to take an existing legend from my reserve and kind of present it in a modern way and then build up from it. The result is an 80 page OGN called Kagagi: The Raven.

The legend itself revolves around a story I was told a few years ago - that back in the day the Windigo was running roughshod over the area and that a group of Algonquin warriors banded together to defeat it, when the mythological hero Wisakedjak wouldnt. To that end, they formed a coalition with what we call the Pagwoudj-Inini or "the little people of the forest". The two groups of warriors combined forces to battle the Windigo and the people he had infected in a huge battle.
Now, I thought that sounded pretty badass. I wondered why so few of us were familiar with the story, and wanted to do something about that - and at the same time, create something new. The question to me was, what happened after that?
After defeating this evil force that they knew would return, how would they prepare to battle it again? The little people blamed it's existence on humanity and bailed...what would they do if...well, WHEN it came back?
That's where the story picks up in the modern day.

It's got elements of superheroics, horror, good old fashioned teenage angst, mixed with a traditional Native legend in comic form. I figured some fellow listeners might want to check it out.

Kagagi: The Raven is listed in the current Previews, and ships in July. If you don't have access to Previews, the Diamond order code is STK436038. I know, we are all inundated with self promoters - but I think this comic is a little different and it's a heartfelt, project of love from a guy who just loves comics, trying to share his people's stories with other comics fans.

If you'd like to see some of the comic (the first eight pages, detailling the battle with the Windigo), please check out the first 8 pages here in the Gallery.
I wrote the intro and got an artist friend of mine named Fernando Granea to illustrate the intro. I think he did a hell of a job, and I hope you like it!



New blog? Check.

Writer to fill it in with entries and hopefully entertain, rivet and thrill...umm. Check. I think.

Horrible title for first entry? Definite check!

Welcome to my new blog. I've been meaning to get this sucker rolling since I brought the Kagagi site live, but time..she's been a very difficult lady to get ahold of lately. I'll talk more about everything that's been going on the past few later. For now, this is like our first date, as it were. I want to make a good first impression, if at all possible. And you know, if the title didn't completely ruin that possibility.

If youre new to the site and to my stuff, my name is Jay Odjick. I write and I draw and sometimes I do both of those things on the same project. Such is the case with the project that bears the title of this site, Kagagi. Kagagi is Algonquin for raven - I wrote, drew and self published a comic series called The Raven a few years back and brought the concept and character back in a Motion Comic DVD and 80 page OGN shipping in May, I believe, thru Arcana Comics.

I wont get us too bogged down in the details of the project itself - if you want to see some of the video, you can at our Main page here, and that says it better than I could here with words. The production itself was produced and animated by my friend Jason Brennan's production company Nish Media.  See, I'm from an Algonquin reservation named Kitigan Zibi. My co-writer on the project, Patrick Tenascon is as well, as is Jason.

Part of why KAGAGI: The Ravenm means so much to me, is because of the individuals who put work into it. Overall, thats a lot of people - Elise Cote, our lead animator did TREMENDOUS work, as did everyone else, from our sound technician, the help I brought in with visuals, including the immensely talented Fernando Granea, our voice actors, and everyone else.

But I had this dream of getting as many creative people from K.Z together as possible - not out of nepotism, but because I wanted to try to do just a little bit to show how talented and awesome people from my community can be. To that effect, a musician and close friend named Lance Cote - Tenasco wrote the theme and I think did a beautiful and incredible job capturing the feel of the work. For the voice of the lead character, I had an idea of something I wanted to try that maybe seemed strange to some, but I think paid off very well.

We had an INCREDIBLE cast of professional, talented performers - I brought in another friend Brett Kelly, an Ottawa based director, actor, producer and all around renaissance man to do some work and to help me cast the production; which the man did in spades. We brought in Trevor Payer, Anne Marie-Kelly and Jody Haucke to portray the Windigo and they all did fantastic work. I cant believe how smoothly things went when we did their voiceover work at Nish's studio and how pleased I am when I watch the DVD.

But for the main character, the lead guy, the main man - I went with a rookie. Sounds crazy, right? Probably, maybe, kinda, but the thing is, I had a guy in mind. A guy who I had heard do all kinds of impressions and voices, who I knew could capture Matthew's youth and innocence and at the same time rock the Kagagi / Raven voice that called for a bit of a cocky edge, the anger and firy temper of the hero in his transformed state. I think it presented a challenge to capture the dual role and make them both feel real and whole, and for that I looked very close to home.

I cast my younger brother, Joel Odjick. Okay, I know - nepotism there, right? Not at all. Biased as I may be, Joel did an incredible job with both roles; Kagagi has a deep, distinct voice thats entirely separate from Matthew's while at the same time sounding enough like the same guy that it isnt jarring to the viewer.

Now that the whole thing is done, I look at the overall production and experience and ask, how blessed am I? There's no way to answer it. All I can do is thank everyone involved in the production, completion and work of this project from start to bottom. Cliched and corny as this may sound, it really was a joint effort and I hope everyone involved in it is as proud of it as I am. Thanks for helping me achieve a longstanding dream of mine - to get a First Nations super hero on screen.

Thanks to everyone who bought it, watched the Youtube clips, came and checked out this site and are reading this blog now. I don't know what will come next; I have hopes and goals that I'll try to make reality, but we never really know.

All I do know is this - if we put our minds to something and we sacrifice, work hard and commit - and yeah, maybe we get the odd lucky break, we can get some tremendous things done. Sometimes it feels hard, sometimes it feels like we're all trying to do this alone, which is incredibly daunting. But let's try something with this creed in mind: if we are all in it together, none of us are truly alone. Let's all start working at those dreams, goals, missions, hopes and somedays together. Share them with each other, forward links, Tweet them to each other, pass em around like trading cards on Facebook, all across the net.

Let's show each other what we can do!