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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 naivete 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.
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Young artist Isaac wants to go to sea, for he prefers marine subjects to all others, except his fiancee Alice, with whom he shares an eighteenth-century Parisian garret. A surgeon he meets enlists him for a voyage--not long--under his pirate friend John's captaincy, on which he can draw to his heart's content. Draw Isaac does, recording a journey--very long--of not plunder but exploration in the far southern seas. Back in Paris, wealthy young Philip hires Alice to cook and clean, and eventually be his clerk. Philip remains gentlemanly with Alice but starts falling in love, sensing which, she goes to live with her mother. Alternating episodes of Isaac's and Alice's stories, Blain draws us into the story as surely as the voyage draws Isaac to the Antarctic and Alice's charms draw Philip's heart. As captivating is Blain's placement of figures caricatured with psychological acuity in realistic settings lit and shaded to suggest antique engravings. Another triumph for the creator of The Speed Abater [BKL My 1 03]. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
I bought this book based on a recommendation in an Amazon list of children's books.
Big mistake. Amazon should check those lists for that kind of mistake. Read more
This book has great drawing and the story is very deep. I liked all the characters. The story is generic, but the storytelling is well done. Read morePublished on May 15, 2004