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Isaac the Pirate: Vol. 1 - To Exotic Lands Paperback – October 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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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From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Series: Isaac the Pirate (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561633666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561633661
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,723,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2005
This French graphic novel is an excellent example of the genre, strong storytelling, evocative art, and a very distinct sensibility of its own. This book revolves around a young Jewish painter named Isaac, who lives in pre-Revolutionary 18th-century Paris. He's kind of the prototypical starving young artist who has a beautiful fiancee and a weakness for nice paintings. While he wants to provide her with food, shelter, etc., he also can't help hoarding pennies to buy pictures he likes. In a funk one day, he is accosted by a dapper little surgeon who flatters and charms him into coming along to paint a sea captain (the painter is particularly fond of maritime subjects). The gullible young man agrees, and before he realizes what's what, he's en route to the Caribbean to serve as artist-in-residence to a pirate captain!

But not just any captain, for this one is intent on sailing to South Pole to discover new lands and thus win immortality as a great explorer. Provided with ample supplies and the patronage of the pirate captain, Isaac spends the long voyage sketching shipboard life, in all its gritty detail. Treasure caves, aristocratic ladies, the terror of battle, and brawling crewman are all faithfully recorded. But meanwhile, back in Paris, Isaac's fiancee Alice is hired as charwoman and then clerk to a handsome, wealthy young buck. At first, this seems like a wonderful solution to her increasing poverty, but then she must cope with his over friendly attention. Isaac and Alice's stories alternate as the pirate drives Isaac closer to Antarctica, and Alice's faithfulness is tested. Blain does an excellent job of conveying the fantastical nature of the wonders of the arctic for the seamen, including ice floes, sea lions, and penguins.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 7, 2004
Isaac The Pirate: 1. To Exotic Lands is a graphic novel by Christophe Blaine of an especially high literary quality. Isaac Sofer is a talented young artist searching for money to make himself a worthy suitor to his beloved signs on to paint the portrait of a ship captain - yet once they are on the seas, Isaac learns that he is working aboard a pirate ship! Furthermore, the captain dreams of discovering new lands around the South Pole - but at what cost? The simplistic color illustrations set the stage for a powerful and enduring tale of the failings of human nature. The first of an anticipated series, Isaac The Pirate is a very enthusiastically recommended addition to graphic novel enthusiasts.
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NBM's english translation of Christophe Blain's engaging tale of a young Frenchman, Isaac Soper, who stumbles into a life of piracy while pursuing his dreams of becoming a famous painter, is several steps above the improbable adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow on the literary ladder, but still manages to capture the energy and unpredictability of a life at sea.

Isaac is a prideful dreamer, the proverbial starving artist, as passionate about his painting as he is about the love of his life, Alice, whose long-suffering support he pushes to the limit when he secretly purchases an expensive preparatory study by a deceased master painter, from which he plans to paint his own naval series that will bring him fame and fortune. "They'll create a sensation, I'll earn three or four times as much! I want to paint sailors, boats. We'll live in a wealthy port city, full of merchants, I'll become an official painter." Unmoved, Alice insists he copy the study and resell it, which sets off a series of events that finds Isaac in the employ of the egomaniacal pirate Captain, John "the Pillager", headed for the South Pole in search of an undiscovered New World, of which he is charged with documenting its existence. This New World, will of course, bear John's name.

Joe Johnson's translation of Blain's prose is seamless, exhibiting a depth of storytelling that, while the norm for European comics, is still an exhilarating breath of fresh air in Western comics.
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Frequently Bought Together

Isaac the Pirate: Vol. 1 - To Exotic Lands + Isaac the Pirate: Vol. 2 - The Capital (v. 2) + The Speed Abater
Price for all three: $38.02

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