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Far Arden

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  351 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
Meet Army Shanks -- crusty old sea dog and legendary brawler of the high Arctic seas! He's got just one mission: to find the mythical island paradise known as Far Arden, which lies hidden (so they say) in the wintry oceans of the far North. But there's more than just water standing between Shanks and his goal: he'll have to contend with circus performers, adorable orphans, ...more
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Top Shelf Productions (first published June 6th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Seth T.
Nov 11, 2011 Seth T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
How does one talk about a book in which its epilogue either makes or breaks the book for, oh, say: 100% of its readers? Give in and spoil the ending by talking about it or politely ignore what may be the most important thing to talk about for potential readers? Tough questions.

Luckily you have me.

Far Arden is one of the best comics I've read in a while. Comedies are ridiculously difficult to pull off over the long haul. Generally, their shtick gets a little long in the tooth well before the half
Jul 28, 2014 Hollowspine rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
A tragi-comic tale of betrayal and intrigue amongst a group of old friends and explorers in the arctic. Army Shanks, our hero, left the RCAN (Royal Canadian Arctic Navy) to become a pirate and explorer. His ultimate goal is to sail to Far Arden, but to do that he must steal back his ship.

On his journey he encounters a young orphan named Alastair Cavendish, his ex-lover Fortuna, her husband and Shanks former friend Pinho, not to mention other friends and enemies from his former days in the "Scrim
Greg Allan Holcomb
Oct 04, 2010 Greg Allan Holcomb rated it really liked it
The first four chapters of Far Arden were four separate 24 Hour Comics. The rest was finished in the same style.

Any other year (not the year Asterios Polyp came out) and I would've nominated this for an Eisner.

I just got my copy back and will be re-reading it soon.
Joseph Szabo
Feb 02, 2016 Joseph Szabo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It's very rare indeed, maybe happening only a few times, when you read a book you were initially suspicious of because the text is not like other works you read before and discover at the end it's one of the best books of your life.

Far Arden is a book so simple and direct, so silly yet not all the time funny, who has the deepest respect for its characters.

We often say we love a book but is that really true?

I say we definitely respect a book, feel great affection for it, note how wise and joyf
Matt Graupman
Oct 24, 2014 Matt Graupman rated it it was amazing
Any book that can bring naval bureaucracy, sideshow strongmen, mythical lands, pirates, orphans wearing dead foxes, and a damaged seaman together is sure to be a winner and "Far Arden" absolutely is. Teetering between romantic realism and total lunacy, "Far Arden" has an abundance of what most comics lack: fun!

The thing I like most about this book is it's humor. Comedy is a very tough thing to pull off on the page and Cannon makes it look easy. The punchy dialogue, ridiculous asides, and (partic
Candice M (tinylibrarian)
Aug 18, 2009 Candice M (tinylibrarian) rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed it and the quirky art, dialogue and plot reminded me of something that Wes Anderson would do, like a sequel or companion piece to the "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou." (Imagine Tim Robbins as Army Shanks and of course Bill Murray as Steve Zissou wrassling/fighting over blonde Angelica Huston as Fortuna, only to make reluctant peace with each other after battling a giant squid together. And then one of the Wilson brothers does something.)

While there is no Steve Zissou or giant sq
Emilia P
Sep 27, 2010 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Full disclosure, Kevin Cannon graduated from Grinnell College the year before I started school there, so 4th star is cuz I felt the Grinnellianly wacky sense of humor/half-hearted but necessary activism vibe about it. But yeah, I like the way he draws, it's very much his own, and it started slow but I was surprised by how much I ended up caring about the weird little characters and not wanting to put it down. The end was yeah, a bummer and not my style, but true to the story, I think.
The layout
Feb 25, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphicnovels, 2010
Never judge a book by its cover sure, but Far Arden is aesthetically just a beautiful book. I'll say that for it. It's also a wonderfully fun story that is enriched by how goofy and slight it makes itself out to be with Cannon's loose inking and penchant for goofy, telling sound effects. Rollicking adventure preludes an ending somewhat unexpected but not at all unwarranted, Far Arden is easily the most fun I've had with a comic this year.

Jamie Felton
Jul 30, 2009 Jamie Felton rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
This is a great graphic novel about modern-day pirates and mythical locales that exist most realistically in the minds of those pirates. This was a really funny and well-drawn read. I loved the artwork and constant amping up of adventure and what-will-happen-next feeling.
Jul 13, 2009 Caleb rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Probably tied with "Remake" as the funniest and most fun graphic novel I've read this year (so far).

Full review here:
Jul 30, 2009 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
A solid debut, that seems to be an aimless, winding stream-of-consciousness adventure, until you get to the end and get a quick punch to the gut that makes it all worthwhile and meatier.
Dec 06, 2016 Batmark rated it liked it
Far Arden is a humorous book told at a frenetic pace. Heavy on plot, it features an interesting main character alongside some fun, if forgettable, supporting characters. The book's primary virtue is its length. At nearly 400 pages, with most pages containing six panels each, there's a lot of story here. And when it comes to a book that's heavy on plot, that's what I want: a nice, long story that has the space to comfortably fit in lots of action before the payoff.

The payoff, in this case, is the
Oct 28, 2016 Emma rated it it was amazing
Far Arden is a great story! lots of action and a great story to tell your kids. I love this type of graphic novel
Gig Wailgum
Dec 01, 2016 Gig Wailgum rated it liked it
fun and entertaining except just about all the supporting characters die.
Laura (booksnob)
Mar 31, 2014 Laura (booksnob) rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2014
Far Arden is an island off the grid and missing from the world map and people are in a race to find it. Its mythical, its tropical and it is somewhere in the Arctic circle.

Army Shanks, ex Royal Canadian Arctic Navy man, has the gumption and the will to find Far Arden but many obstacles stand in his way. First he has to find his ship, help a orphan, fight a polar bear, (OK he doesn't fight the polar bear, someone else does), then he does battle with RCAN, meets a couple of weird college kids and
Matt Brady
Jul 04, 2013 Matt Brady rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, read-in-2013
The tale of Armitage "Army" Shanks, notorious Arctic pirate, and his quest for the fabled island of Far Arden, a tropical paradise hidden somewhere in the Canadian Arctic, is a light-hearted adventure story with moments of grim darkness. Filled with navy battles, polar bear-fighting, evil circuses and a whole lot of punching. it's a lot of fun, with the occasional serious moment, and it mostly works, though the ending feels rather rushed - this is definitely a story more about the journey than ...more
Nov 09, 2013 Derek rated it really liked it
Far Arden is a unique mix of comedy, adventure, and classical tragedy, all held together with a wonderful cartoony comic book style.

On the surface, it appears to be a wacky melodrama based in the Canadian Arctic, featuring orphans, damsels in distress, and a brave hero with a dark past. And it is that, but it's also a meditation on fate, secrets, and lost opportunities. There are a LOT of references to classic novels, and I found it interesting that it would probably resonate differently for pe
Aug 08, 2009 Erik rated it it was ok
Published by Top Shelf Productions, those fine purveyors of alternative/indie comic books and graphic novels, Far Arden is Cannon’s surrealistic Northern Territories adventure that is part Northern Exposure and part Baron Munchausen. Army Shanks plays the pivotal protagonist role when he is oft waylaid in his search of the mysteriously mythical (or it is?) land of Far Arden. Along his journey, her befriends Alstair Cavendish, a young orphan who has this odd preference of wearing a wolf’s skin, ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
Oh Army Shanks! What shenanigans will you get up to next?! This book was So Much Fun! It's self-contained and long enough that you feel like you're actually getting a nice meaty story. Taking place in the icy, watery, wild islands of northern Canada.

Shanks, an Arctic Pirate, (with various old friends he picks up, and drops off, along the way) is currently terrible at following through with any of his promises. So he's trying to work on that. He's the type who throws punches first and asks questi
Geoff Sebesta
Dec 18, 2010 Geoff Sebesta rated it liked it
I thought this was good light fun but I hate hate hated the ending and I'll tell you why. I'm not into literary in-jokes. I'm especially not into in-jokes that give away the ending. I was totally into this book, totally along with it all the way, and then, right before the ending, one of the characters says this:

"I am going outside and may be some time."

There are two types of people -- those of you who see this as just a sentence, and those of you who are familiar with the history of Arctic expl
Robert Beveridge
Kevin Cannon, Far Arden (Top Shelf, 2009)

For some reason, I was expecting Far Arden to be one of those hip-cynical, all-too-self-aware comics when I picked it up. So when I ended up with a hare-brained adventure story, to call it a pleasant surprise would be something of an understatement. It's kind of slight in the final analysis, but it's often humorous, the characters are a lot of fun to hang around with, and the story, however simple, is a compelling one that's powered many a quest narrative
Gayle Francis Moffet
Oct 05, 2014 Gayle Francis Moffet rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, 2014, october-2014
I unintentionally read Crater XV (the sequel) before reading this book, and it was a very polished final product, so I am a little biased in that direction. Far Arden has the same amount of swashbuckling, and it's an interesting and engaging sequel, but it took a little time to find its feet, and it really only snaps together in the third act. I never felt it was wasting my time, but--again--I read the sequel before this one, so I know exactly how good Kevin Cannon got, and it's hard to not se ...more
Stewart Tame
Mar 03, 2014 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it
Fun! A rip-roaring adventure set among the islands of Northern Canada. Cannon's art is simple without being simplistic, and the story walks a delicate line between tongue-in-cheek and serious adventure. Cannon also favors descriptive rather than onmotopaeic sound effects (e.g. "Uncork" rather than "Pop.") Not many comics use this convention. The only other instance I can recall is Matt Howarth's work. It just adds to the charm of this book. Apparently this was originally serialized online, but ...more
Sep 19, 2013 Aryeh rated it really liked it
This one was almost as good as Axe Cop but then the ending came and OOF, tragedy. Definitely didn't expect that. The epilogue didn't make it any better either. On the plus side, you've got polar bears, one character who punches out a fish and then carries it everywhere, including to a formal dinner, a traveling circus in the arctic, an orphan who barks like a fox and wears 'puppy blankets' aka fox pelt, and buxom ladies. This isn't too bad of a book. In fact, I really like it. All except for the ...more
Apr 15, 2014 Deji rated it really liked it
It took me some time to warm up to Far Arden, partly because the drawing style is so unusual. I think the setting is fascinating--in the Canadian arctic--and there is just enough detail to make it feel authentic, even if it is satirical. The plot became slightly nonsensical at points. My favorite part, by far, was Cannon's use of words to describe actions on the panel. By this I mean the "zap" "pow" type descriptions used in super hero comics. Cannon makes the use of these words an art form in ...more
Jan 13, 2014 Eli rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 13, 2010 Wayne rated it really liked it
I'll probably get grief for this review. It was a little too long for my taste. The art was very amateurish, with some panels featuring characters who were indistinguishable from each other. It's a pretty clever idea story wise, with a huge cast of interesting characters. A lot of it was predictable, except the end. The end was somewhat unsatisfying, with the fate of some characters in doubt. I wouldn't actually recommend buying it, but it would be worth checking out at your local library.
Jul 02, 2011 matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comic-books
Wow. I love this book. I love that it is drawn with a restless enthusiasm that reminds me of a grade school kid drawing super heros - it's beautiful. I love the terrifically descriptive sound effects. I love the rambling, boisterous storyline. I love how funny it is. I'm shocked at how emotionally involved I became in these characters. I'm shocked at the tragedy that develops.
I hope Kevin Cannon keeps spinnin tales - cuz I am officially a fan.
Nick Jones
Jan 12, 2016 Nick Jones rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
An unlikable protagonist meets irritating secondary characters in a scattered, dull story centered around an uninteresting quest. To make matters worse, the art primarily vacillates between ugly and inconsistent, only occasionally venturing into passable territory.

In other words, this is a typical self-indulgent alt-comics graphic novel.
Jul 07, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
I was really captivated by this style of graphic novel. The pace was great and the story was intriguing and I loved when the images had text for the fighting scenes like "groin punch". Yeah, it was my kind of graphic novel. But there was drama, and character development in what felt like such a fast paced story, but ultimately, it was a very satisfying story. Can't wait to read the sequel!
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Cartoonist, Illustrator, and lover of all things cold and distant.
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