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 na vet 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 Herg '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.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This novel reprints and translates the first installment of Blain's two-part graphic novel Les Ameriques and Les Glaces. Penniless but proud-and-determined young painter Isaac boards a ship with plans of returning wealthy enough to buy a house and marry his childhood love. When his shipmates turn out to be pirates sailing for distant shores, things become more complex. At the same time, his fiancée, Alice, takes a job assisting a wealthy lord who becomes infatuated with her. Isaac's sketching ability soon wins over both the pirates and society ladies from foreign lands, just as Alice's fierce intelligence and forthrightness enchant her new boss. The plots continue to juxtapose and intertwine for a compelling story. The dialogue is razor sharp, and the story line moves like the stormy seas and sword fighting contained within. The full-color graphic novel format showcases both the exotic locales and the spatial opposition of the characters with a joyous expressiveness. Will it go over well with teens? This book is as much a historical adventure as it is a romance. Both Isaac and Alice seem very young, and their awkward thrust into murky, adult worlds makes for universal storytelling. Part one ends on such a typical cliffhanger, though, that readers and libraries might want to wait until both ends of the story are available. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S A/YA G (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults; Graphic Novel Format). 2003, Comics Lit/NBM, 96p., Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
Adult/High School-Isaac is a struggling but gifted painter in prerevolutionary France. With pressing financial troubles and a strong-minded fianc e, he takes a temporary job as a naval painter on a ship delivering supplies to the New World. This is the simple beginning to a not-so-simple tale, for things are not quite what they seem. The boat is not out on a short cruise, but a lengthy and dangerous expedition led by Captain John the Pillager, a successful and charismatic pirate possessed by a touch of madness to rival Herman Melville's Ahab. With his sights set firmly on the South Pole, Captain John hopes to discover endless riches and lay claim to his place in naval history. Based more on caricature than what most Americans might be used to, the characters often display elongated noses and odd, cartoony postures. However, Blain's artistic skill in rendering and in giving his characters life brings to mind recognized artists like Honor Daumier as much as anything out of comics. The exaggerations are not there for humorous effect but to impart layers of personality that dialogue might not necessarily convey. The dark earth-tone colors and heavy lines used in the background seem fitting for both the time period and the story line. Blain complicates his tale by making it more than Isaac's story; it is also the tale of Isaac's fiancee, Alice. Left behind in Paris and struggling to make rent, she finally lands a good job only to find herself fending off the sexual advances of her aristocratic employer. The striking emotions and real-life consequences of her story balance the action of the naval scenes and bring a surprising level of depth and complexity to the work.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.