Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #71: Cursed Pirate Girl (Vol. 1) by Jeremy A. Bastian

I don't know where Jeremy Bastian came from -- looking at his intricately detailed, neo-pre-Raphaelitie pen & ink work, I'm tempted to claim that he sprung fully formed from the head of Tony Millionaire -- but, wherever it is, they make some damn good artists there. His first major work is an ongoing (slowly, but ongoing) comic called Cursed Pirate Girl, and he seems to have hit the first page fully-formed as an artist and already doing amazing work.

The book in front of me reprints the first three issues of the Cursed Pirate Girl comic, plus some things I'm pretty sure are original to the book, such as a big fold-out wanted poster. So the consumer note here is that this is a "Volume 1," despite not saying so, and that there's no ending yet -- this is a story that has a single plot, and will presumably end eventually, but any ending is nowhere in sight at this point.

It begins in the golden age of piracy: Port Elizabeth, Jamaica in the year 1728, where the posh and pompous new governor is throwing a big party and forcing his young daughter Apollonia to attend. But the story shifts quickly away from them -- though there are hints one or both of them may become more important later -- to the title character, a girl of about ten who claims her father is one of the five great pirate captains of the fabled Omerta Sea. With the aid of an intelligent parrot called Pepper Dice, the CPG is soon on her way to that mysterious ocean and the quest for her father -- slightly hampered by the fact that she has no idea who he is and in fact knows nothing about him.

So: this book has three 38-page issues, a short "epilogue" that returns to a character from earlier in the book, the aforementioned poster, a collection of alternate covers (I assume the original covers are serving as frontispieces to each issue here, but the book doesn't actually say that), and about a dozen pin-ups by other hands (only two of which, I'm happy to say, inappropriately age and sex up the CPG) framed by a brief story of the artist who created the wanted poster in-world.

Bastian's art is frankly stunning: not just as detailed as a Rackham or Millionaire, but great at storytelling and full of magnificent and horrible images. The Millionaire comparison is pretty apt, actually: Bastian has some of Millionaire's eye for the bizarre and strange, though that eye is harnessed to very different ends. And the story is equally quirky and individual; this could have easily become fairly routine, but it's clear Bastian has a complicated, weird world to explore here, and a collection of strange characters to populate it with. Cursed Pirate Girl is like nothing else out there, and I can't offer higher praise than that.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

1 comment:

click clack gorilla said...

I absolutely LOVED the artwork in this too. Wasn't too taken with the story though.

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