ISAAC THE PIRATE: Volume 1: To Exotic Lands

Christophe Blain, Author
Christophe Blain, Author . NBM/ComicsLit $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-56163-366-1
Reviewed on: 12/15/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
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This volume collects two installments of a continuing story by young French artist Blain, who is part of the new generation of European comics creators. The story is an intriguing mixture of naïveté and sophistication. Isaac is a young, talented painter in pre-Revolution France. He lives with the beautiful Alice and dreams of making enough money from his art to marry her. But he leaves her to go on a sea voyage, not so much because it offers good wages but because it promises to show him new things to draw. He soon learns his captain isn't just a pirate; he wants to become famous by sailing to the South Pole. Alice, meanwhile, tries to remain true to Isaac while struggling with poverty and dealing with the attentions of a handsome though featherheaded admirer, Philip. Blain's humans are childishly distorted, with misshapen heads and exaggerated facial features, but he composes scenes well, especially in panoramic landscapes as Isaac's ship nears Antarctica. The effect of putting cartoony people in more realistically rendered settings resembles Hergé's Tintin. Yet complicated doings are afoot in Blain's story, as the characters grapple with dangerous concerns, sometimes behaving like grownups, sometimes like overgrown children. The pirate captain's vainglorious megalomania, Isaac's single-minded devotion to his art, Alice's faithfulness, Philip's romantic excesses—all these are adult passions that can be expressed childishly. And like all such emotions, they have consequences. Keeping readers off balance, Blain's mix of naturalism and cartoonyness creates a story of surprising depth. (Dec.)

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