I just discovered that the library carries some of these, and I've been reading them as I find them, completely out of order. This is the first volume...moreI just discovered that the library carries some of these, and I've been reading them as I find them, completely out of order. This is the first volume I've read from one of the main branches of the series, and it helps explain a little background info I was missing in an earlier volume I read (which I haven't returned yet, so maybe I'll re-read it real quick). Very enjoyable, and while there are lots of funny bits (including the art, which looks not unlike Sergio Aragones'), there's also plenty of serious fantasy, mixing a lot of different fantasy staples in a very original way.(less)
Even though there's something a bit formulaic about the books, they're still vastly entertaining reads, mostly due to Jackie's irrepressible nature. O...moreEven though there's something a bit formulaic about the books, they're still vastly entertaining reads, mostly due to Jackie's irrepressible nature. Outrageous coincidences abound, as we run into old friends and enemies everywhere, but it's carried off with such aplomb we don't care. Reminds me a bit of a '30s or '40s adventure serial. Recommended, but of course you should start from the beginning.(less)
Quite a bit longer than I'd been expecting, but not overtly flowery. Very engaging; well-drawn characters. Not quite as much swash-buckling as I would...moreQuite a bit longer than I'd been expecting, but not overtly flowery. Very engaging; well-drawn characters. Not quite as much swash-buckling as I would have expected, but quite a bit more intrigue. Very satisfying.(less)
Every bit as good as Forester's Hornblower books, but very different as well, despite the fact that most of the action takes place on a boat (a river...moreEvery bit as good as Forester's Hornblower books, but very different as well, despite the fact that most of the action takes place on a boat (a river boat in this case, rather than a ship of the line).
Rose and Charlie are both distinctly drawn characters, and both really far from the norm for adventure story or romance protagonists. Both of the characters are middle aged. Charlie is wonderfully described at one point as a man who wasn't self-analytical enough to realize that most of the troubles in his life could be traced to his efforts to avoid trouble. Rose is a middle aged spinster who has grown into adulthood in the shadow of her brother, and who doesn't realize that she's becoming increasingly emancipated and independent as the story progresses (and who would be horrified if she were to realize it; having grown up in Victorian England).
Thrown together under unusual circumstances, Rose devises a plan she doesn't realize is virtually impossible. Charlie decides to go along in an effort to avoid an argument, since he thinks she'll eventually realize along the way that what she wants can't be done, and he's the kind of guy who likes kicking decisions down the road. And so they find themselves drifting down a river in central Africa at the dawn of WW I on an impossible journey, driven by Rose's drive and determination and Charlie's know how (and corresponding lack of drive or determination) and find themselves slowly falling in love and being completely surprised by it, both being of an age where they were convinced love had long passed them by.
If you have seen the movie, the book gives a great deal more insight into the thoughts and motivations of the characters, but the movie is a very faithful adaption in most regards, and the two complement each other well. The major change is in the ending, and to be perfectly honest the movie has the more satisfying ending. Though the book's ending is in a sense more realistic and more true to the characters, it is also somewhat more anti-climactic and frustrating.(less)
Rafael Sabatini was an Italian ex-pat who settled in England near the turn of the century and eventually made a name for himself as a writer of classi...moreRafael Sabatini was an Italian ex-pat who settled in England near the turn of the century and eventually made a name for himself as a writer of classical romances (historical adventures, what we today would call swashbucklers). Most of what I've read of his ranges from good to mediocre, but he has two masterpieces of the form, which are Scaramouche and Captain Blood.
Captain Blood (1922) concerns the life of Peter Blood, a former soldier of fortune who had retired to the English countryside to practice medicine, the trade for which he had been educated. In the aftermath of a failed rebellion by the Duke of Monmouth against King James (in which Blood did not participate), Blood is called upon to treat the wounds of a nobleman who was on the wrong side of the rebellion. While doing so, he is rounded up by the king's soldiers, and is condemned to a life of slavery for giving succor to a rebel. He is sent to Barbados, where he meets both his nemesis--Col Bishop, the harsh plantation owner who purchases him--and the woman whose love he ultimately comes to desire--the Colonel's niece.
The opening act concerns itself with this setup, and with Blood's efforts to lead an escape from his slavery. Blood then begins a career as an uncommissioned privateer, wreaking havoc amongst Spanish colonies and ships throughout the Caribbean. There are several excellent set-pieces during which Blood shows not only his skill as a fighter and captain, but also his wits and quick thinking. The combination of brawn, brain and wit are winning, making Blood a very memorable character. Eventually, of course, circumstances bring Blood and Miss Bishop back together again, and mutual misunderstandings keep them apart for a while in order to draw out the romantic suspense (and provide more opportunities for daring escapes).
A long time favorite (I was introduced to the book by way of Philip José Farmer; Blood is one of the members of his original Wold-Newton family tree), I have read this several times over the years and consider this one of my favorite sea-based swashbucklers. The movie (1935), with Errol Flynn in his screen debut as Blood and Olivia de Haviland as Arabella Bishop, is also recommended, though it leaves out some of the best set pieces in the interests of keeping a manageable running time.(less)
A wonderful book. I first learned about Gottfredson's Mickey nearly three decades ago, but most of my encounters with it have been piecemeal. It's gre...moreA wonderful book. I first learned about Gottfredson's Mickey nearly three decades ago, but most of my encounters with it have been piecemeal. It's great to finally have the beginning of a comprehensive, chronological collection in a sturdy, beautiful, affordable English edition.
The book covers Gottfredson's first work on the strip, which began very early in the strip's life (for the sake of completeness, the pre-Gottfredson strips are included in one of the archival supplements in the rear). A wealth of supplemental material is included after the strips. The strip apparently began as a humorous gag-a-day strip with limited continuity, and those early strips are pretty lackluster. The syndicate apparently suggested (strongly) that Walt try a more adventurous format, which was then in vogue, and so Walt began the title storyline, "Race to Death Valley". The book begins with this story. Gottfredson picked up the art chores a couple of weeks into the story, and not long after Walt handed off the writing to Gottfredson as well. Gottfredson remained the strips writer through the '70s (though he usually had help with the art).
Despite some dismissive comments in the introductory material that Gottfredson was just starting to learn the ropes with this first story, I actually enjoyed it the most of the stories in the book. The other stories aren't in any way bad, but most of them didn't have quite the same balance of slapstick and pure adventure that the opening story did. The other stories were for the most part quite good as well, but still experimental too--Gottfredson was trying different settings, pacing, and balances of the competing slapstick and adventure elements.
As is typical for Fantagraphics reprint collections, the production values on the book are high. Nice paper, crisp reproduction, a wonderful cloth and matte cover, solid binding. The only thing I found myself wishing for was a bound in ribbon bookmark.
Looking forward to more in this series, as well as their forthcoming collections of Carl Barks' duck stories.(less)
Having just read Three Musketeers, this felt a bit short, but it was very quick paced and lively. Jim is a plucky hero; at times too rash (but appears...moreHaving just read Three Musketeers, this felt a bit short, but it was very quick paced and lively. Jim is a plucky hero; at times too rash (but appears to learn from his mistakes). Long John Silver is a great villain, urbane and sweet talking, but dangerous, with a natural ability to play more than one side of any situation so he always has his options open. A lot of fun; and a great adventure yarn.(less)
An early (1930) graphic novel by Milt Gross, He Done Her Wrong is a completely wordless turn of the century melodrama, inspired by and playing a tongu...moreAn early (1930) graphic novel by Milt Gross, He Done Her Wrong is a completely wordless turn of the century melodrama, inspired by and playing a tongue-in-cheek tribute to early adventure serials from the silent era of film.
Although Gross was apparently well known in his time, I confess I'm not familiar with him. Can't say that the art grabs me, either--it's done in a satirical, caricature-ish style, vaguely reminiscent at times of Don Martin, but rougher.
But the story's entertaining enough.
The characters are not named, and there's not a lot of character development, but it isn't needed. We have our Hero, the manly outdoorsman, the Girl, who is done wrong, and the Villain, who done it. The Hero is unworldly, but manly enough for ten. The villain is dastardly, taking advantage of the Hero's naivete then stealing the Girl away to The Big City, where he leaves her penniless. The Hero pursues. Fate intervenes; many mishaps are had; paths are crossed and re-crossed; and it all works out as it should in the end.
A very curious book. Virtually no character development, and very little dramatic action, and yet it remains oddly compelling throughout. An odd mixtu...moreA very curious book. Virtually no character development, and very little dramatic action, and yet it remains oddly compelling throughout. An odd mixture of a naturalist's handbook and a scout's handbook, combined into a castaway DIY adventure. Even though it's totally unbelievable, it's nonetheless interesting seeing what new flora or fauna they're going to discover next, and how they'll turn it to their advantage.(less)