Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh

I loved the first Polly and the Pirates book, but somehow never got around to reviewing it. Then I read the second volume and was, well, disappointed. I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only person disappointed as I note that the first volume is out of print - how are they supposed to get new fans of the series with only the (inferior) second volume available? As I'm recataloging and reviewing my personal library, I thought it was time to revisit exactly what it is that I loved about the first volume.

Polly, who has a doll-like look similar to Naifeh's goth creation Courtney Crumrin, is a prim and proper young lady in a girls' school until one night when she's kidnapped! She finds herself thrown into the frightening, dangerous, and decidedly unladylike world of pirates where she not only rises above the challenges to take over the rough pirate crew, she finds out secrets about her family and especially her mother. In the end, she has to make decisions about where her loyalty lies. She returns to her school outwardly unchanged, but a completely different person on the inside. Further adventures are hinted at as there's still a treasure to be uncovered, a rival pirate's son to defeat (and possibly romance) and the suspicions of her friends and rivals at school as well. Of course, we know how that sequel turned out (it didn't).

The art feels a lot like Courtney Crumrin, all shadows and angles, but with soft touches that give it a dark, brooding look. Many of the adults have only partially formed features which both focuses attention on Polly and the other main characters but adds an almost grotesque touch to the story. It's not as polished as Courtney Crumrin, but it's still a funny, poignant, and fascinating story.

Verdict: This is out of print and honestly it's never been super-popular in our library so I don't really recommend it (and I really don't recommend ever paying attention to Oni's age ratings - due to a couple mildly racy jokes, some serious topics, and actual, you know, DEATH, this is really not appropriate for ages 7 and up) but if you're a fan of Ted Naifeh it's worth digging around for a used copy to enjoy on your own.

ISBN: 1932664467; Published 2006 by Oni Press; Purchased for the library

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