Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Polly and the Pirates volume 2: Mystery of the Dragonfish by Ted Naifeh, illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez

I loved the original Polly and the Pirates and although it's not as popular as Courtney Crumrin, I've not regretted adding it to our collection. It's sad, odd, beautiful, and hilarious, just like most of Naifeh's work.

I was excited when I heard there was finally going to be a second volume, shocked when I found out it would have a different illustrator, reluctant to try it, and finally determined to give it a fair shot.

I didn't like it, and I'm not just saying that because of the new illustrator. I didn't like Naifeh's script either. Rodriguez' illustrations don't have the exquisite shading techniques of Naifeh's art. His art is much more reminiscent of manga styles with lots of fine lines and brushstrokes. I hate this, since it means I can't tell the characters apart (yeah, I probably need new glasses, but my place of employment, excellent in many areas as it is, does not run to the heights of vision insurance).

I missed Polly's doll-like look and the style of the original volume. (I don't universally dislike Rodriguez, I own all the volumes of Maintenance and I like his work there, but it's much cleaner and less cluttered). I also missed the coherence. While I expect a certain amount of mystical drift from Naifeh, Mystery of the Dragonfish is hardly a mystery, since it has few identifiable characters, clues, or a plot. There are mysterious machinations, political ruminations, and about halfway through it's like the author suddenly said, "oh yeah, there's supposed to a plot, um...yeah...let's throw in some secret plans or something."

Verdict: I was disappointed. Others might not be, especially if they prefer the more manga-style art of Rodriguez and like the weird convolutions of Naifeh's "plot". However, the first volume isn't so popular at my library that I feel justified in purchasing the second. I'm expending my Naifeh budget on the colored volumes of Courtney Crumrin.

ISBN: 9781934964736; Published January 2012 by Oni Press; Borrowed from the library

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