Burial of John Franklin. Author: me


Kabloonas is the way in which the Inuit who live in the north part of Canada call those who haven´t their same ascendency.

The first time i read this word was in the book "Fatal Passage" by Ken McGoogan, when, as the result of the conversations between John Rae and some inuit, and trying to find any evidence of the ill-fated Sir John Franklin Expedition, some of then mentioned that they watched how some kabloonas walked to die in the proximities of the river Great Fish.

I wish to publish this blog to order and share all those anecdotes that I´ve been finding in the arctic literature about arctic expeditions. My interest began more than 15 years ago reading a little book of my brother about north and south pole expeditions. I began reading almost all the bibliography about Antarctic expeditions and the superknown expeditions of Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton, etc. After I was captured by the Nansen, Nobile and Engineer Andree. But the most disturbing thing in that little book, full of pictures, was the two pages dedicated to the last Franklin expedition of the S.XIX, on that moment I thought that given the time on which this and others expeditions happened, few or any additional information could be obtained about it. I couldn´t imagine that after those two pages It would be a huge iceberg full of stories, unresolved misteries, anecdotes, etc. I believe that this iceberg, on the contrary than others, would continue growing instead melting.

miércoles, 15 de agosto de 2012


Here we have James Fitzjames. Let me be hard with myself and self -critical (is the way to improve).

My drawing reminds me more of the father of the Adams family (with all my respects for him, of course) rather than the real J.Fitzjames....but at least his impossible hair and the uniform are similar. The original picture is here.

Again I crash with the problem of the eyes. It is a matter of practice, practice and more practice, specially if you are an untrained cartoonist as it is my case.(Feel free of making any constructive comment to me).

This man is defined as "the mistery man of the Franklin Expedition" in the title of the book of William Battersby, I think that because of the several ´gaps´ or ´lapsus´ existing in the path of his live, including the fact of their appointment as the second in command with Franklin in his last expedition . 

There is a web page dedicated to him and to the book mentioned before created by William Battersby here :  http://www.jamesfitzjames.net/default.html.

I have the book over my table waiting to be reading soon and I have to say that I am anxious to read it. Again, I have to redirect my post to a thorough review of this book which only increases my anxiety of reading it. I can assure you that is a hard task to decide what is the next arctic or ´Franklin´ book to read because the list is inmense and not all of them are good enough. This year I´ve been focused on the 1819´s Coppermine Expedition of Franklin, and it is hard to leave apart the two journals which I had also waiting, the George Back and Richardson ones edited by C.S: Houston, but it is good to change of focus once in a while.

There are other books about this man, one is called "North with Franklin: The lost journals of James Fitzjames" and the original "The last journal of Captain James Fitzjames".

If there is no patience enough to read the book in order to know better this man, there is a short, and more or less complete biography  here, though I recommend to contrast oportunately its content. 

What seems to be true is that he had a sharp sense of humour and that he had some kind of emotional intelligent as it seems that can be deduced from some of his commentaries about his mates.

To finish this comment, and while I am advancing in the knowledge of the careers, personality and character of these men, I think that far from other considerations that have been told about this expedition, the team seems to be an excellent body of people, hard, prepared, experienced, clever, etc. In fact the conditions had to be very hard, and obviously they fought against a certain death during several years and achieved to survive despite all this time being ill. It is impossible to imagine how would you feel walking on that desolate land dragging an absurdly heavy boat, extremely ill, starved and with your moral absolutely destroyed watching how your collegues are falling every day besides yo.

Likely If I were one of these officers selected to join the expedition and with the knowledge they had, I hadn´t chose any other better companions to afford that calamity.

6 comentarios:

  1. Excellent points, Andres! The officers and men of the Expedition seemed like such a personable, perceptive lot; in fact, Lt. Griffiths of the ship "Baretto Junior" wrote "finer fellows never breathed." You will find this sentiment in William's excellent book. I did not know that there is a book on the "lost journals" of James Fitzjames--thanks for mentioning that! And, as always, your drawing is great!

  2. Thanks Jaeschylus!, I´ve found this reference about the days on which the Baretto Junior accompanied the Erebus and Terror Ships:


    Is interesting the reading of the days between the 17 of may and the 16th of june of 1845. And reading the famous sentence "The officers and crew were all well and in high spirits".

    Reading the comments in the link before mentioned about the propulsion of the Erebus, it has rised my interest on deeping about this matter and if it could be relationed with the fact of abandoning the ships.

    Now I am consulting a book called "Evolution of Engineering in the Royal Navy" and I am learning something about how inappropiate was incorporate screw propulsion to wooden hull ships because the flexibility of her hulls, it seems that it could cause wear on the shaft bearings and other damages on the stern. I will write something about this when I read more about the particulars of the Erebus and Terror propulsion machines, perhaps if they abused of their use against the ice, they could have provoked irreversible damage on the hull and therefore having to abandon the ships prematurely.

  3. You did good on the uniform (oh that impossible hair, lol!) but, the expression doesn't fit J. Fitzjames. His original picture out of the main set, attracted me the most because of his open, cheerful expression. From that picture you could easily see he was a very nice man. Here, in your drawing, he appears almost pained, a little sad maybe. I've read 'The lost journals' book, I like the way John Wilson portrayed J. Fitzjames's personality, it felt very true to life despite being only fiction.

  4. It has to be an interesting book, I´ve found some ´ratings?´ about it and it seems to be a good one (four points over five). I am anxious to read a good fiction book about this expedition. The only fiction book I read about Franklin has been ´Terror´ by Dan Simmons, and, thought i enjoy it, it is not exactly what I was looking for I prefer something more realistic.

    I agree, I can´t capture well the expressions of the officers, and it is true, if you analize closely the original pictures, they are as if all of them where in front of someone who is telling them jokes, is as if they are just waiting the photo was shooted to begin to laugh openly.

    I am not very good actually drawing but I am having a lot of fun from this experience, and above all, it is a good excuse to take the pencil again. Soon I will try to bring some of them alive in several imaginary sketches about the expedition. (I will try to hide their faces with opportune hats and scarves), jeje.

  5. Yes, I agree! I disliked how Dan Simmons (author of The Terror) wrote J. Fitzjames's character as being weak ):

    As for fiction there's also: Artic Drift, Clive Cussler. It has some to do with the Franklin expedition (I didn't like how Fitzjames died early on... ): I think I'm sensitive about that.

    The comic panels would be nice (;

  6. And don´t mention the improbable end of Franklin himself...however I like the author.

    I recently have read ´Drood´ and though it´s a little bit long I enjoy it. Again he takes historic characters and model them as he likes (sometimes so grotesquely that I recognize that I laugh loudly exhilarated). Why not? At the end he is a terror and fiction novelist.

    But I agree that all this men deserve respect especially when you go deep into their lives and learn more about them, they weren´t common people, this is a fact. They deserve recognition.