By Christophe BLAIN

Isaac Sofer, talented painter with no money, embarks upon an adventure on the high seas with visions of riches that he can bring back to get married to his lovely Alice. Turns out the captain who wants him to paint his glory... is a notorious pirate! Quickly enough, Isaac finds his away around the rough and ready crew and makes quite a life until the Captain reveals his real plans: to achieve glory discovering new lands around the South Pole. The cost of this megalomania adds up geometrically as the story progresses, with Blain not hesitating to off one of the seriesí most beguiling characters.

And beguiling this series is. Itís natural, itís real, the interaction between characters has dialogue with a bite but not theatrical or posed. Such is Blainís philosophy, espoused from the new European Ďschoolí of comics, what has been termed comicsí ĎNew Generationí headed by the brilliant Lewis Trondheim and including Joann Sfar (both published by NBM and Sfar's The Rabbi's Cat will be brought out by Pantheon Spring 2005), David B (The Epileptic) and an inspiration to such artists as Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis). Intimate reality and the complexities of the human existence slipped into an epic setting. One can feel the heat between Isaac and Alice, even in disagreement, one can nod appreciatively at the savvy way Dr. Demelin, the Captainís right-hand man, defuses tensions, and understand how increasingly hard it becomes for Alice to resist the advances of another man as time progresses and Isaac does not return.

Itís simple like everyday life, itís epic like our dreams, and itís brilliant.

The art might take a little getting used to. Deceptively simple and possibly even scratchy.

Like life.

Christophe Blain was born in 1970 in France and knew from early on that drawing would be an important part of his life. While appreciating comics as a youth, he never rounded up the motivation to get into it until he met Trondheim, Sfar, et al, who pushed him to create. The previous book NBM ComicsLit published earlier this year, The Speed Abater, and this series actually round out Blainís own experience of being in the navy for military duty and also traveling to far lands like the South Pole. He published sketchbooks of these experiences. As for the main character in Speed Abater, he was sick like a dog, as for Isaac, he sketched everything he saw.

This book comprises what was published as two episodes in France: "The Americas" and "The Ice."

6 1/2x9, 96pp. Full color trade pb., $14.95, ISBN 1-56163-366-6;


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