The Treasure of the Black Swan

Paco Roca and Guillermo Corral, trans. from the Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-68396-578-7

Career diplomat-turned-author Corral debuts with a gripping account of one of the most dramatic cases of his career, offering readers an insider’s look at the classified meetings, painstaking research, and backdoor deals that shape international law. In the Strait of Gibraltar in 2007, American salvage ship The Ithaca’s discovery of a “Black Swan,” a sunken galleon with its treasure intact, grabs headlines—and the attention of the Spanish government, which believes the sunken vessel and its contents belong to Spain. Low-level Spanish diplomat Álex Ventura navigates international salvage law and foreign policy, and even finds time for a romance, all while engaged in swirling, high-stakes seafaring action and courtroom intrigue. In a political and legal firestorm, bureaucrats, politicians, and corporate lawyers battle against the clock to secure ownership of the vessel and its hundreds of millions of dollars in sunken treasure and cultural artifacts before the Ithaca can stake its finders claim. Artist Roca’s charming, Tintin-influenced artwork finds the drama and humanity in even the most mundane of clerical duties. This tale makes “true legal” drama feel like it could be the next frontier for graphic narratives. (May)
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