Indie Comics Spotlight: Cursed Pirate Girl, 47 Ronin, Pending Issues

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Cursed Pirate Girl Hardcover

There’s something to be said about keeping tabs on your imagination. As a kid, nourishing your imagination gives you a powerful ally in life, an ally which has the potential to exist as long as you do in some form or another. It’s that imagination that’s on full display in Cursed Pirate Girl from Archaia Entertainment. The collection is written and illustrated by Jeremy Bastian.

There’s a girl known as Cursed Pirate Girl and she’s looking for her father. He just so happens to be the greatest pirate captain of the mythical Omerta Seas and her quest to find him takes her the world over and back again. Along the way, she encounters swordfish knights, one-armed pirates and sharks. There’s always sharks. Then there’s Apollonia. She’s the daughter of a well-to-do governor who’s keen on being as imaginative as possible. That imagination leads to her crashing a dinner party put on by her father and being confined to her room. Through interacting with Cursed Pirate Girl, Apollonia finds the courage and ability she needs to escape her father’s ire.

If Alice in Wonderland took place in the ocean, Cursed Pirate Girl would be it. Bastian has infused the work with such creativity and sheer imagination that it’s one magnificent encounter after another. Cursed Pirate Girl is thrown into countless situations that can only be conjured by a child’s imagination (or adult writer apparently). Mythical creatures emerge from hidden caves and lairs, not only to challenge Cursed Pirate Girl, but to also show this is a fantastical universe. While the collection is so steeped in mythology, it still maintains credibility as a story. That is, nothing is sacrificed in the way of plot with all the craziness. There’s a thread running through the entire hardcover that makes it a deep and compelling story. Bastian balances the creativity with plot, ensuring the reader gets a little bit of everything.

Writing is only half the battle in comics; art is the other half. And Bastian is fighting on both fronts. His art is equally as weird and inspired as the story itself, relying on models that are almost caricatures of the people they’re representing. There’s symbolism in their appearances and it all folds in together to support the world Bastian has created. The woodblock appearance really helps the story stand out even further from the norm and it’s a really good thing.

Archaia knows a thing or two about crafting truly imaginative worlds and Cursed Pirate Girl Hardcover is no exception. The sheer weight of creativity in the book is staggering and is such a joy to read. It’s a book that doesn’t rely on cliffhangers, epic battles or heavy twists. Instead, it relies on the imagination of Bastian and the willingness of the reader to indulge in it. It’s a truly unique book that was a joy to read and is worth your time.

The 152-page Cursed Pirate Girl Hardcover is available now for $24.95.

47 Ronin #2

Samurai are nothing if not honorable. What values they honor are dependent on the actual samurai. Some value honor, while others honor immorality. 47 Ronin #2 from Dark Horse Comics is the second chapter in a mini-series that looks at both. The issue is written by Mike Richardson, with art by Stan Sakai, colors by Lovern Kindzierski and letters by Tom Orzechowski and Louis Buhalis.

Lord Asano is in a tight spot. He was goaded into an “assault” by a corrupt court official in the Shogun’s palace, an act punishable by death through seppuku. That in and of itself is enough to rile up the Asano household, but when it comes to light that Lord Asano was sentenced without a proper investigation, his retainers seek to extract revenge on the official who got him killed.

Richardson really crashes through the second issue. The magnitude of events that transpire seem a little hurried in a sense, but obviously they had to happen in order for the grander plot to unfold. This isn’t a knock on Richardson’s writing or pacing, as both are phenomenal in the second issue (much like the first). Really, it’s more of just a shock with what happens to Lord Asano. As a reader, you’re pulling for him to emerge victorious against the blatantly corrupt official, but this is a feudal Japan and honor has a way of being meted out unfairly at times. Richardson humanizes the story very well, making it feel authentic and like a genuine recounting of an event.

Sakai’s art is understated but effective. He doesn’t rely on an excess of detail, instead relying on relatively simple lines for the art. There’s a clean, old-school feel to the art that helps set the time and place for the tale. The panel layout is very rigid and allows for easy immersion into the saga, making sure the reader understands fully what’s at stake.

The second issue of 47 Ronin continues right where the first left off: an incredibly fast-paced tale steeped in Japanese tradition. To be sure, there’s a lot in here referencing the Samurai way, but the story is so accessible that you don’t have to be a scholar to follow what’s going on. It’s a well-told story that can be picked up by just about anyone.

47 Ronin #2 is in stores now.

Pending Issues

Cases involving the heart are rarely simple and often left with loose threads. Whether it’s one person in a friendship not picking up the advances of the other or just long, unrequited love, there’s a lot of complexity in the emotion. There’s a full gamut of such instances on display in Pending Issues from Red Tempest Media. The issue is written by Alejandro Farias and illustrated by Jorge Vildoza.

Rupert Fink is a man with a rather uncommon occupation: he resolves pending issues. His job is that of a private detective, who looks in the past, the impossible, the dreams and even death to bring closure to his clients. He’s got a motto along the lines of “We just put the cards back in the deck again, and sometimes the cards come out the same way, sometimes worse than the previous game.”

Farias’ story is pretty inventive. There are many people in life who find themselves in a situation where things didn’t end how they wished and they spend many future days with regrets. Fink offers his clients a reset of sorts, presenting an ability to investigate the incident or relationship and find the missing piece to resolve it. It’s something that many people have likely desired at one point or another and his approach is very clever.

Vildoza’s art is equally up to the task of matching the creativity of the story. It’s filled with washed out colors and well-defined lines and all the characters are almost projections. It’s as if the art is a projection of the emotion behind the pending issues and it really comes through well. Art is always supposed to do this, but in the case of Pending Issues it really fits the story exceptionally well.

Pending Issues shows that comics are continuing to push the boundaries of storytelling. It’s got a sad sensibility about it that sort of depresses you as you read, but it fits within the fabric of the story very well. It’s definitely worth checking out if you want to read something a little unusual and fresh.

Pending Issues is available now from Red Tempest Media.


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