I have no idea where I found this one, but I am sure it somehow popped up on my Amazon recommendation list. At first I saw the title and though, what is that, then as I kept thinking about the title I was more and more intrigued about what was the Cursed Pirate Girl. It seemed very different and I was expecting something equally as strange, so I had to check it out.
Jeremy Bastian is, how shall I say, somewhat of a lesser known creator in the comics world. I say that because he is best known for his work on CPG. He has a degree in art from Pittsburgh University, and honestly that is about all that I could find out about him. He has written some other works including Ye Olde Lore Of Yore, as well as being a contributor on the comic Mouse Guard. But despite there not being much out there on this guy, I certainly cannot wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.
The story opens up on a port in Jamaica in the late 1700’s where a governors daughter seems to befriend an orphan who calls herself the Cursed Pirate Girl. The two come from completely different worlds and make an odd pair. CPG tells the story of her father being a pirate captain of the mysterious Omerta Sea and will soon set out on a journey to find him. Later the governor’s daughter ruins a dinner party of the governor’s, speaking about pirates and such, soon after the governor sends a henchman to kill CPG. This series of events set her on her journey to find her father meeting a plethora of mysterious characters along the way, the next more bizarre than the last.
I am no stranger to bizarre and just plain odd stories, and when I found this title I thought I was in for something along those lines. But surprisingly this story, while certainly different, worked quite well and I felt was really well written. The story was interesting and the writer did a great job of keeping my interest using strange and fun characters as I turned each page. There was also just a good feeling you get while you are reading this one, something that reminded me of a fairytale when you were a kid, something you would read to your child before bed time.
This book has gotten quite a lot of praise, albeit it still seems like an underground title, but as I say that it did get picked up and published by Achadia. I guess I am surprised that it has not really broken into the main stream. Honestly, of all the somewhat questionable graphic novels that I have seen getting a movie deal, I am very surprised no one is talking about this one and there is not more hype out there for this one. One critic even called it the “Alice in Wonderland of our generation.” I can certainly see the comparison as the characters in the story are very funny, interesting, and unique to say the least. Also, surprisingly this book has been out since 2009, and after reading this I am very surprised that it has not gained more attention. But I suppose we will see what happens to it in the future. I came across it in happenstance, and feel that the quality of both the artwork and the overall story, there should be some major hype out there with this one. Yet I don’t really see it.
After doing my own research I realized that there is more to this story. When I purchased the book I was under the impression that it was a graphic novel and that was it, that this was the complete story collected in this edition. However, Bastian is now working on additional chapters of the story and it has just been released. It is another 50 or so page volume out there for sale called the CPG Annual. So just something to be aware of before you buy and get sucked into the story. (I recently purchased this book and will be reviewing it soon.)
I loved this book and cannot say that enough. It is a very fun and good hearted read, and at times goofy. To me this is a great book to get children involved in comics or just reading for that matter. The story itself is great for children and reminds me of any number of Disney movies I watched as a kid. Its full of adventure and will certainly entertain them for the time being. I think that long after they are used to the story the art will mesmerize them for hours on end letting their imagination run wild, I know mine did.
The artwork in this book is absolutely magnificent, or as Will Farrell says, “That was delightful. No. No. It was brilliant. No, no, no, no. There is no word to describe its perfection, so I am forced to make one up. And I’m going to do so right now. Scrumtrelescent.” All kidding aside I know I throw around the “never seen anything like this before” tag line but I cannot help it, and I have never seen anything like this in a graphic novel. The only thing that comes close to my mind is Road to Perdition, but that pales in comparison to this. It reminds me of old time woodcuts, like 1700’s artwork, where you can see every line and how they come together to create the picture. Bastian has completely mastered this form and in addition has added so much intricate detail that the eyes are almost overwhelmed at first glance. I cannot imagine the amount of time a single frame must have taken, there is just so much detail that even for some crazy reason you did not like the story surely the artwork would have made up for any short comings. I put this style in my top five and probably my top two. It is actually mesmerizing, and when I turned each page I found myself just staring at the artwork and imagining myself in the scene and smiling. It is truly amazing. One of the things that I think make is so awesome is because I feel that if resembles the old style, and when you combine that with the story you really get something special, like this book was written hundreds of years ago and that was the style of art used. I would also like to mention that the presentation of the book is by far one of the best I have ever seen. Each page is printed on some very thick paper and the edges are not cut but appear torn, which again gives more detail to the book and the period in which it takes place. I rarely mention how the book itself looks, as most are generally the same, but Bastian has taken something so mundane and made it truly wonderful. The page layouts are above average, I thought they were a little different from what you see. The real treat are the full page splashes, that is when you really get to see the artwork at its best. Sadly there is no color in this book, which I honestly could not care less about, and again I think without color the book stays true to its nature of the 1700’s setting. The only negative and I think it is a small one is that every scene is very crowded. When I first flipped through the book I remember thinking to myself, gosh this is going to give me headache trying to visually digest all this. Surprisingly it was the complete opposite and once you start reading the images seem to just flow together nicely. Despite there being almost no white or blank space, the scenes were still, in my option, easy to read. It can appear overwhelming at first glance but after a while you just marvel at the artwork then read the story.
If you cannot tell the artwork is what makes the book. I did enjoy the story but the artwork really sets it apart from anything else out there. Also I love the presentation, how the book itself is presented and looks, truly a one of a kind. What is also amazing is that Bastian wrote and drew this whole book by himself. That is absolutely insane, given the extreme quality of the finished product. This is only the second book I have read where the writer also drew the entire book (COPRA) and this one is far superior.
I recommend this one as it is one of the most fun graphic novels I have read this year. Not enough can be said about the art style that brings to life this bizarre and interesting story. You should check this one out if you get a chance you will not be disappointed in any way.