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‘Cursed Pirate Girl Volume 1:’ TPB Review

Dead men tell no tales, but cursed girls live them.

There are thousands of stories, perhaps millions in the world, and there are countless ways to tell them.  But there are some stories that just feel right, ones we remember clearly and have a chance to become a part of the collective consciousness through the sheer power they evoke. They are often deceptively simple on the surface, but they speak to something magical and wondrous that could be just around the corner.  These are stories like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  They become an indelible part of our psyche when we’re young, and they can transport us back to that time whenever we pick them up.  Jeremy A. Bastian has managed to create just such a magical work with his Cursed Pirate Girl, a tale of a tough young girl who knows her place in the world and isn’t afraid to keep hitting it with a sword until it realizes it, too.

Everyone who talks about this book compares it to Alice, and it’s fair to see why, though I find it to be much more engaging.  Cursed Pirate Girl goes looking for her Wonderland, seeking it out with abandon even when she’s told it doesn’t exist.  Her will is strong, and she takes major blows to her plans and her body with equal indifference. She takes it all as it comes and keeps on driving towards her goal.  In a typical fashion, she accrues companions through the magnetism of her vibrant personality and soon leads a jolly, little party of comic relievers who keep us delighted as well as providing a C-3P0-style worrier who bring up odds that she’s able to ignore and usually vault over.  Beyond our heroine, the rest of the cast is just as interesting and unusual, stunning, evil, and kind in turns.  Not many of the characters in this world are without agendas. Whether they be in line with, against, or having nothing whatsoever to do with CPG and her quest, every character has a purpose.  The scenes in the galley of Captain Holly’s ship may be my favorite sequence in the whole book, and it reminds me of Spirited Away’s Kamaji, though with a sensibility that is more rewarding to a Western audience.  There are storytelling hooks in the short sequences between chapters that are really brilliant and have as much to do with the art style as anything.

I can’t even begin to describe how gorgeous this book is to look at.  Using a woodblock style that immerses you completely into the 16th century world, Bastian has poured an incredible amount of time and love into these pages.  He even admits that his time frame is so much more daunting than the typical comic turnaround that the traditional publishing model would never work.  I’m thrilled that he has the backing to be able to bring us this amazing work, and I hope that he’s able to do it for a long, long time.  The intercoastal stories I mentioned above are incredible because of just this type of astounding art style, panel-less full pages that are a single image. Your eye works through and finds the line of the story like one of Jeffie’s wanderings from The Family Circus, but filled with adventure, silliness, and wonder that go so far beyond anything I’ve ever seen. 

The style not only feels right at home with the piratical time, but also reminds me incredibly of Terry Gilliam’s work, especially The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.  It’s the kind of sideways looking at the world that shares a kinship with Neil Gaiman and Dr. Seuss, where everything is incredible and yet somehow completely believable at the same time.  He has a lot of fun with characters of various size, like something out of a Muppet movie.  The level of detail in his work is staggering. You can be totally lost in any page, and the crowd scenes…they remind me of amazing murals in waiting rooms when I was young, where every visit to the doctor I would spend my time looking at every face, every person, and I’d still never felt like I’d seen it all.

I don’t know many works that have so thoroughly sparked my imagination the way that this book has.  This is the kind of story I want my son to grow up reading, and I’ll be giving it as a gift to any parents I know.  This has become a must-experience journey for me, and I can’t wait for more of Cursed Pirate Girl’s adventures.

Share the stories that move you.

Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor



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