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Set to Sea Hardcover – August 10, 2010

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Who knew that the big galoot who can’t pay his tab and gets kicked out of a tavern is a poet at heart, gazing longingly into library windows on dark, abandoned streets? Certainly not the scurvy seadogs who kidnap him and send him to sea as a replacement for their lost crew, where he learns that the waters are possessed of a much different poetry than he ever suspected. With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. A loving and very sophisticated homage to E. C. Segar’s Popeye, it would make a fine tonal companion for Scott Morse’s Southpaw (2003) or S. A. Harkham’s Poor Sailor (2005). Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise. Grades 8-12. --Jesse Karp


“At its core, this book is imbued with appropriately romantic notions of what living one’s life truly means. ... Weing is something of a classicist in his artistic approach, from the E. C. Segar influence he clearly wears on his anchored sleeve to his garish use of hatching—but the style suits the subject matter quite well.” (Brian Heater - The Daily Cross Hatch)

“With hints of The Odyssey, Moby Dick, Popeye and Treasure Island, Weing has created a modern classic in the pirate genre.” (School Library Journal)

Set to Sea is the kind of comic that you give to people you love with a knowing look that says 'read this, you'll thank me later.' The kind of book that is not exclusively reserved for aficionados of the comics art form. The kind of work that, by virtue of its poetry, leaves the reader in an emotional state once he's read the final page, and that simply demands to be flipped through again immediately so that the reader might breathe in this adventure's perfume for a little longer.” (Thierry Lemaire, Actua BD (translated from French))

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606993682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606993682
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,449,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Drew Weing lives in Athens, GA with his wife, fellow cartoonist Eleanor Davis, and too many cats. He makes comics for print and online, among which are the nautical graphic novel "Set to Sea," and the kid-friendly webcomic "The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo." His most recent book is the early reader comic, "Flop to the Top," which he co-authored with his wife.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By blistrone on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This beautiful little gem is nothing short of a masterpiece. The packaging, the design, the printing, are all so lavish and well-suited to the work, but let's get to that work.

Ostensibly this is a story of a protagonist who is impressed into service at sea, but what it's really about is a man who has lost his passion (in this case, for writing) and somehow, without knowing it and almost against his will, he regains it. But that's not quite right either. This by turns unfortunate and almost supernaturally blessed soul finds genuine inspiration where he never would have sought it. Only a hack poet before his maritime career, he is finally moved to write, to communicate in a very real way only after he's, well, lived. Not unlike the real life of many an artist.

And still again, there's so much more to it than that. Gorgeously illustrated and sensitively written by the remarkably talented Drew Weing, this book has to be seen to be believed. The art is sweet, yet finely detailed in such a way that it creates a very real-feeling kind of world, and the spare dialogue perfectly complements that overall effect. I read someone else compare it to the Big Little Books of the mid 20th Century, and that's a fair analogy, but my God, I wished those BLB's had been this good.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an exquisite little book, with every page a stand-alone work of art. I read it with the same excitement that I first found with Edward Gorey books years ago in that it's not simply a book as a vehicle for a story, but a book as an artwork in itself (but Set To Sea does not have Gorey's affectation of ghoulishness in the least). Each page is beautifully drawn and apparently meticulously researched for historical accuracy. The story is literally for all ages: for the young, an inspiration to work and experience, and for us oldsters, a message about the dignity and satisfaction of having worked and experienced. It's a book to linger over and to give to friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven C. Harrison on August 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The artwork in this novel is beautiful and exhibits tremendous discipline by Drew Weing. This tale is accessible enough for children to love and sophisticated for adults to comb over. We don't see this kind of deliberate cross-hatching too often. Each page is like an 18th century engraving.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Daniel L. Fry on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book... A heartwarming story along with the most lush artwork you could possibly hope for. It's a delight for the eyes.
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Format: Hardcover
That's the buried question in Drew Weing's first graphic novel, SET TO SEA, a small-format hardcover with each panel printed at full-page size.

(And you have to imagine that, in between that paragraph and the next one, I went and found Weing's website, where there are amazing webcomics that Our Hosts wouldn't let me link directly to -- either just stick his name and a "dot com" into your address bar to get the whole thing or google "pup heat death" for one of the very best.)

A large chap -- never named -- is the hero and central character of Set to Sea. We meet him as a young man, poor and knocking around a seaside town in what seems to be the mid 19th century. He wants to be a poet, but finds himself shanghaied onto a ship, set to work, set upon by pirates, and set up as third mate of that ship in the aftermath. Though he never did, strictly speaking, "set to sea" himself -- since that implies an element of choice -- the rest of the book tells the story of his life, in a sequence of mostly silent panels, each showing one moment in that life.

It's a short book, and a small one, but it implies and contains more than itself, with its hints of a changing world (and a man who may have changed along with it), with its implied message of work and experience over contemplation and self-containment, with its Segar-esque grotesque characters and the richly detailed environments they inhabit, and with its refusal to state baldly what it means or is. SET TO SEA is a book to read and contemplate on, a book to look at and think about, a book to read slowly and then to read again. It's a lovely graphic novel from a creator I hope to see a lot more from as the years go on, and I hope his own busy life affords him enough leisure and time to continue to make gemlike, poetic stories like this one.
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By Robin on January 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
When Set to Sea arrived at my house, I had just finished teaching a week-long unit on several other graphic novels--specifically V for Vendetta, Persepolis, and Maus. Weing's novel, with its poetic approach to story and illustration, offered a lovely counterpoint to the sprawling tales of Alan Moore, the charged vignetts of Marjane Satrapi, the brutal metaphors of Art Spiegelman.
My high school students agreed. I shared the book with them, and they universally praised it (they also loved the other novels, by the way).
This work, as other reviewers have noted, is a beautifully-drawn, clear story that builds to an understated, satisfying conclusion. As a graphic novel, it demonstrates how a simple story can gain depth through graceful art and clear plotting. And Weing obviously enjoyed drawing it, as evidenced by the exquisite composition and detailed penwork of the panels.
Read it for the pleasure of holding fine craftsmanship in your hands. Share it for the joy of seeing friends and/or students understand the possibilities of the graphic novel. Buy it so that we can encourage Mr. Weing to write and illustrate another work.
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